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L I B RARY 

OF THE 

UN IVLR5ITY 

or ILLINOIS 



8^3 



FRANK SINCLAIRS WIFE, 



AND 



OTHER STORIES. 



FRANK SINCLAIR'S WIFE, 



AND OTHER STORIES. 



BY 

MRS. RIDDELL, 



ArTHOK OF 



GEORGE GEITH," *' TOO MUCH ALONE," " HOME, SWEET HOME, 
" THE earl's PROMISE," ETC. ETC 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
YOL. II. 



LONDON: 
TINSLEY BROTHEKS, 8, CATHERINE STREET, STRAND. 

1874. 

{All rights of Translation and Reproduction are Reserved.'^ 



PBINTET) BY TAYLOK AifK CO., 
LITTLE QrEEN STREET, LC«COL>''S IXN FIELDS. 



8 £5 



i^ 



CONTENTS 

or 

THE SECOXD YOLUME 



FRANK SI^X•LAIE'S WIFE. 



CHAP. 

XXII. •■ THE HOTEL " ... 

XXIII. AT BEIAXT VIEW TERRACE 

XXIV. PATTY TO MRS. ST. CLAIR (continued) 
XXV. PATTY TO MRS. ST. CLAIR [continued) 

XXIV. MRS. ST. CLAIR TO HER HUSBAND 
XXVII . CONCLUSION .... 

MY FIRST LOVE. 



I. OUR FIRST MEETING . 

II. rose's PAPJENTS 

III. OUR VISITOR 
IV. OUR OWN HOME . 

V. XLJ. ABOUT ROSE 
VI. LOVE-MAKING . 
VII. I SEE SIR HUMPHREY 
VTII. JOAN's LOVER . 

IX. SUCCESS . . • • 

X. WHAT SUCCESS BROUGHT TO ME 



PAGZ 
1 

15 

44 
58 
65 



71 
05 
100 
126 
154 
174 
19S 
231 
■251 
•27 U 



FRANK SINCLAIR S WIFE 



FRANK SINCLAIR'S WIFE. 



CHAPTEE XXII. 

"the hotel." 

^'It seemed to me better for the sheriff's 
officer to drink wine than that Mr. Allington 
should in any way have the benefit of it. 
I feel more amiable towards Mr. Allington, 
though. Looking at the affair from his point 
of view, I admit he had reason for com- 
plaint. 

" When I had finished my letters, one to 
my wife and another to her mother, en- 
treating the latter to come up and nurse 
Susie, I told my visitor that one of my chil- 
dren was very ill, and requested his permis- 

VOL II. B 



Frank Sinclair^ Wife, 



sion to go up-stairs and see her before my 
departure. ^ Of course,' I added, '- you can 
accompany me.' 

'* ^ Sir,' lie replied, 'I am a father myself, 
and know a gentleman when I see him.' 

'' Having communicated which pieces of 
information, he stood up while I passed out 
of the room, and, instead of following me, 
devoted himself, as I have reason to believe, 
to the sherry decanter. 

^' Outside the dining-room door, I found 
another gentleman seated on one of the hall 
chairs. His hat, which contained a blue 
cotton handkerchief adorned with white 
spots, was placed between his feet, and he 
carried a knobbly stick whereon his chin 
rested contemplatively. 

'^ ' Good evening, sir,' he said, touching a 
wisp of black hair which hung down his 
forehead just like the forelock of a horse's 
mane. 

^^ For a moment or two he seemed doubt- 
ful as to whether or not it was his duty to 



" The Hotel:' 



accompany me, but immediately after his 
chin dropped again on the top of his stick, 
and I was permitted to ascend the stairs 
alone. 

^^ Whether I shall ever kiss my children 
again or not I cannot tell, but I shall never 
forget the feeling with which I bade them 
good night then. 

' " Don't go, papa, dear,' Susie cried, with 
her arms clasped tightly round my neck. 

'^^ There are two gentlemen waiting for 
me,' I said, * and it is necessary for me to 
go out with them.' 

^' ^ I hate strange gentlemen,' exclaimed 
Susie, and she loosened her clasp and buried 
her face in the pillow, sobbing bitterly. 

'^ ' Susie, love, for my sake,' I entreated, 
for it was indeed more than I felt at the 
moment I could bear, and then the darling 
lifted her tear-stained face, and, trying 
to smile, looked more touching and pa- 
thetic than she had done in the access of 

her grief. 

B 2 



Frank Sinclair's Wife, 



^^ SometMiig in my tone must have 
touched her, for she said,' ^ Susie will be 
good to-night, papa.' 

<^ ^ Try to be good to-night, and all nights, 
Susie,' I answered — 'God bless you, my 
darling ' — and then I drew the counterpane 
closely around her, smoothed the little pil- 
low, kissed her once more, and left the 
room. 

'^ The gentleman-in- waiting who had 
accompanied his friend to my house being 
good enough to take a seat beside the 
driver, Mr. Eustin (this I found was the 
name of the sheriff's officer) and I were Ute- 
d-iete. 

^^That I was indis'posed for conversation 
seemed to be the very reason why he per- 
sisted in forcing his upon me, and my 
monosyllabic answers only appeared to rouse 
a talking fiend within him. 

^' All along the dull suburban streets, all 
the way through the more bustling thorough- 
fares, where he had to shout to make me 



The Hotel:' 



liear what he said, he rehearsed his expe- 
riences and expressed his opinions — return- 
ing at uncertain intervals to my position, 
and striving to induce me to reconsider that 
little matter about Whitecross Street. 

''' You'll excuse me, sir,' he began 
shortly after we left Briant View Terrace, 
laying a marked emphasis on ^ excuse,' but 
most probably you are not acquainted with 
the Hotel.' 

"' What hotel ? ' I asked. 

'-'- ' Oh ! the Cripplegate — Whitecross 
Street Prison. That is how most likes to 
have their letters addressed — sometimes it 
is called by the governor's name — but any- 
how, as I was a saying, you have never put 
up there before, have you ? ' 

" ' No,' I replied, • it is my first visit.' 

^^ ' And you have never been there to see 
a friend ? ' 

*^ ^ Never,' I answered. 

'' ^ Then, sir, take my advice, and let us 
go quietly and comfortably to Sloman's. It 



Frank Sinclair's Wife, 



may cost a little more money, but you will 
find it worth all the difference. You have 
no idea what poor sort of accommoda- 
tion there is at the Hotel. A gentleman 
like you could not stomach it, I am sure. 
Of course, it is in one way no concern of 
mine ; but it would not be right for me 
after the handsome manner in which you 
acted, to let you go to such a place in ignor- 
ance. The Hotel is just the filthiest and 
the blackguardest place in London. There, 
I would not wish my worst enemy, if I had 
one, a night in it.' Having delivered him- 
self of w;hich sentiment, this Christian, who 
was at peace with all the world, waited to 
hear what effect his eloquence had produced 
upon me. 

"^I shall go to Whitecross Street,' I 
said. 'If I am to board and lodge away 
from home, it shall be at some other person's 
expense.' 

'^'As for the lodging, such as it is,' 
remarked Mr. Eustin slowly, ' you will have 



" The Hotel:' 



that free sure enough ; but for anything else 
you will have to pay, and precious high too. 
Come, sir ! it can't be for long, you know ; 
let me persuade you to go to Sloman's. Be 
advised, sir, do.' 

'' And thus he proceeded at intervals du- 
ring the whole of the drive ; and even at the 
very gates of the prison itself he entreated 
me, almost with tears in his eyes — the wine 
having by that time got well into his head — 
to come with him, and he would speak to the 
people, and I should have everything just 
as particular as if I was at home. 

u i Priyate room, good fire, tea and toast, 
and all comfortable,' was the luxurious pic- 
ture he presented for my consideration ; and 
— shall I confess it ? — for one moment, look- 
ing at the outside of this abode, he tempted 
me. It could not be for long, as he said, 
my cowardice pleaded. Alas ! experience 
has proved that I decided wisely when I 
resisted the voice of the charmer. 

'* ' I have quite made up my mind,' I 



8 Frank Sinclair's Wife. 

said ; hearing which, he groaned, and having 
treated me ^ not to blame him,' rang the 
beU. 

'' At the sound my heart seemed to drop. 
Here was a nice ending to a not disreputable 
business career ! — and brought about, ioo, 
by my own inconceivable folly. The night 
was raw, and the pavement damp. I felt 
chilled to my very bones, and could not 
avoid shivering — which action being noticed 
by Mr. Eustin, he began a fresh sentence 
concerning Sloman's. 

" ^ Confound Sloman ! ' I exclaimed, en- 
raged, because I really repented my deci- 
sion ; and then the door swung slowly open, 
and in we marched. 

" Formally Mr. Eustin delivered me up 
to a warder ; he gave the particulars of the 
debt, which were duly entered ; and during 
the time occupied by this performance, my 
portrait was, as I have since ascertained, 
being taken by the man '- on the key.' If 
ever any of my descendants, therefore, should 



'' The Hotel:' 



entertain the slightest curiosity on the sub- 
ject of my appearance, he will doubt- 
less find that work of art carefully pre- 
served amongst the treasures of Whitecross 
Street. 

" My idea of a prison had always been 
that it was a place were people were locked 
up separately, and where, if one preferred 
to remain altogether in his own cell, there 
was no necessity to see the other in- 
mates at all ; but I was undeceived when 
the man ushered me into a room where 
sat a number of people talking, reading, 
and smoking. 

" There were some rough benches scat- 
tered about, and I took possession of one as 
far distant from the assembled company as 
possible. 

'^ My modesty, however, did not prove of 
much avail. In a moment I was surrounded 
by half-a-dozen eager questioners. Had I 
just come in ? Was I going to stay ? Was 
it bankruptcy ? Had I ever been there be- 



lo Frank Sinclair's Wife, 

fore? to all of which inquiries I returned 
such short answers that wrath rapidly suc- 
ceeded to curiosity, and I was immediately 
treated to a number of satirical remarks, 
concerning my appearance, my manners, my 
accent, and my possible future. 

" ^ He is a lord in disguise,' said the chief 
of my tormentors at last — an old man to 
whom years had taught nothing, save blas- 
phemy and obscenity. '- He is a lord, that 
is what he is ; come to judge for himself of 
the delights of imprisonment for debt. He 
will rise and moye the abolition of White- 
cross Street one of these days in the House, 
and we will read his speech in the papers. 
Come away ; he wants to put down *in his 
note-book all he has heard already.' And 
so with jeering laughter mingled with oaths 
and filthy ^remarks, they left me to my re- 
flections. 

''^At all events,' I thought, 4t cannot 
be long before the time comes for retiring 
to rest, and to-morrow I shall ask the 



''The Hotel:' ii 

governor to allow me to remain altogether 
in my own room.' 

" My own room ! Gracious Heaven ! shall 
I ever forget my first sight of it — an apart- 
ment divided off into stalls like those in a 
stable, each stall containing a small bed, the 
linen of which was black with dirt. 

" Instinctively I drew back a step, at 
sight of this horrible den, and the action 
being noticed produced screams of laughter 
from my companions. 

" ' Where's his lordship's canopied couch, 
with the silk velvet hangings and the satin 
coverlet ? ' 

'' ' Where's his groom of the chamber, 
and his band to play him to sleep ? ' 

'' ' Where's his valet to pull off his 
boots ? ' they cried in chorus, and after that 
there ensued such a carnival of ribaldry and 
blasphemy, such a continuous stream of 
brutal jests, of coarse remarks, of fright- 
ful oaths, as I could have imagined forming 
the entertainments of Pandemonium, but 



12 Frank Sinclair's Wife. 

certainly not of even the lowest human 
abode. 

^^ When the lights were extinguished the 
confusion grew worse ; two or three times 
the clothes were slily pulled off me ; but at 
length, waiting an opportunity, I hit one 
fellow such a blow on the face, that his 
friends, not approving apparently the dull 
sound it made, and the cry it elicited from 
him, crept back to their beds, and left me in 
comparative peace. 

'^ Never on earth, I think, however, were 
such conversations held as those I listened 
to in Whitecross Street, that night, till at 
length I was fain to cover my ears, and try 
to shut out the sound. 

'^ After hours the uproar gradually sub- 
sided — first one, then another dropped off 
to sleep — and I alone, of all those wretched 
creatures, kept my vigil in the darkness of 
the winter's night. 

" Next day I arranged with the ^ stew- 
ard ' as he is called, to cater for me ; and 



'^ The Hotel P 13 

until this morning his contract must have 
proved profitable, for touch food I could not 
— ^more by reason of my own distress of 
mind than the repulsive character of the 
unclean messes which are set before one." 

^' To-day, however, I have decided I must 
do something ; my temporary aberration of 
intellect has lasted long enough, and it is 
now absolutely necessary that I should take 
measures . against drifting into absolute 
insanity. 

^^ Already I have written to my solicitor 
and to McLean; a special messenger has 
been despatched to Briant View Terrace, to 
bring tidings of my family, more especially 
of Susie ; for no news has reached me for 
twenty-four hours. Surely, if the worst 
were to happen, they would at least let me 
know. 

^^ Shall I ever get out of this place? 
Have people died here ? have they gone 
mad ? have they committed suicide ? or do 
all become reckless and profane ? — reckless 



14 Frank Sinclair's Wife. 

as regards this world and the next ; holding 
in non-esteem everything which their happier 
fellows consider of most account here and 
hereafter. 

" This is a place of devils. I shall de- 
scribe its horrors no more." 

END or DIAEY. 



15 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

AT BRLAN^T VIEW TERRACE. 
From Patty to Mrs. St. Clair. 

^'Dearest Mamma, — It is only because I 
so faithfully promised to tell you everything 
that I write at all ; for it breaks my heart to 
distress you with an account of the troubles 
here. They are increasing every hour, and 
unless I or some one else can see Frank and 
consult with him as to what ought to be 
done, I confess it baffles me to imagine what 
the end will be. 

" I should go to where Frank is, but I 
really dare not leave the house. Poor Bella 



1 6 Frank Sinclair'' s Wife. 

is utterly unfit even to think ; she sits all 
day wringing her hands, and saying she has 
ruined her husband, and killed her child. I 
fear she has done the first, and Susie is very 
bad indeed, poor darling, and keeps moaning 
and crying for her papa, which must be very 
hurtful to Bella. 

'•'- Dear mother, when I started for London 
I lamented that you could not stand in my 
stead. ]N'ow I am thankful you have been 
spared the sight of so much misery. Pray 
do not let any one read this letter except 
you and my father. I think we ought to 
keep the sorrow to ourselves as much as 
possible. 

" In my first letter I told you Frank had 
been arrested — that Susie was seriously ill — 
that the house seemed wretched — that Bella 
appeared turning crazy. Now things are 
worse than ever. Bella has been crazy, and 
Frank too, I think ; Susie is dangerously ill, 
and — ^but there, I must come to that worst 
of worst gently. 



At Bria7it View Terrace. 17 

" Of course, I never imagined otherwise 
than that Frank would re-appear within 
twenty-four hours, and so I made myself, 
and tried to make Bella, tolerably comfort- 
able ; but, Bella's experience being probably 
greater than mine, I signally failed in the 
latter attempt. 

^^ ^ ]N"o,' she said; , I have seen the last of 
my husband, and I never appreciated him 
till now.' 

^' ^ Had not you better go and tell him 
that ? ' I suggested ; whereupon she burst 
into a torrent of tears, and declared she 
never should see him again on earth. 

'^ Dear Mamma, you know I hate this sort, 
of thing, as much as I detest women who 
cannot exactly realise the precise state of 
life in which it has pleased God to place 
them, and I therefore said to Bella — 

" ' Nonsense ! Eeally you are enough to 
drive any rational person insane ! ' 

" ' You do not understand my trouble, 
Patty,' she answered ; and came over and 

VOL. II. 



1 8 Frank Sinclair'' s Wife. 



put both her hands on my shoulders, and 
kissed me. Dearest mother, I never loved 
Bella so much before. 

'' ' Darling, tell me everything ; are we not 
sisters ? ' I suggested. 

" ^ Yes,' she replied; but somehow the 
idea did not seem to give her much comfort. 
At all events, she did not tell me everything. 
Since writing the above, I beg to amend it ; 
she really comprehended nothing. She knew 
that by some means she had got Frank's 
affairs into a frightful mess ; but how or 
why, to this moment, I am confident she 
does not understand. 

'-^ It strikes me that both she and Frank 
must, a few months since, have lost their 
senses. So far as I can make out from what 
the servants and the children say, Frank 
has been staying at home and managing the 
house and Bella has been taking charge of 
the business ; and truth obliges me to say, he 
seems to have made as great ^fiasco as she. 

^^ Certainly the house was never so 



At B riant View Terrace. 19 

iVTetched, even during Bella's regime^ as it 
is now ; but then a dreadful woman wlio has 
only one redeeming Yirtue, that of being 
able to cook, tells me, ' Master found out 
there was dreadful goings on under missus's 
Yery eyes — a wasting of his substance, and 
taking away the character of his house — a 
ordering of just what they liked from the 
tradespeople, and keeping of all their friends 
and relations and sweethearts out of the 
sweat of master's brow, as the saying is.' 

'^ Certainly there could not be much chance 
of such things happening now, for I cannot 
even get a loaf of bread unless I first send 
threepence three-farthings for it. I asked, 
as a matter of curiosity, the charwoman 
aforementioned for an explanation of so 
singular a phenomenon, remembering, as I 
did, a time when notliing in the house was 
paid for — when ready money seemed an 
unknown form of expression — when, from a 
box of hair-pins to a velvet dress, every 
item ordered was ^ put in the bill.' 

c 2 



20 Frank Sinclair'' s Wife, 

" ^ Miss,' she answered oracularly, ^latterly 
the master has paid everybody cash, and 
settled np everybody's bills. There is not a 
tradesman to whom he owes as much as a 
brass farden ; and if you have paid people 
regularly and then wants to run credit, they 
think there is something wrong.' 

" ^ Then the fact of paying ready money 
is more suspicious than running up a bill ? ' 
I suggested. 

^^' Eight you are, miss. Whenever 
gentlefolks begins the cash system, it is 
thought they are going to economise ; and 
if, after that, they wants credit, it is sup- 
posed they never mean to pay.' 

^^ There is no doubt reason in all this, if 
not rhyme ; but it does not tend to raise the 
character of the British tradesman in my 
eyes. Eather it seems to prove that, as a 
rule, the tradesman and the wife are mutual 
conspirators against the husband's purse. 
Were I a king, I should make a law rendering 
all household debts irrecoverable after one 



At Briant View Terrace, 21 

week. Seven years, they told me, is the 
time for all debts. Seven days I would 
make it for ribs of beef and quarts of milk 
and gorgeous feminine aj^parel. 

'^ I have written all the foregoing because 
I cannot hear coming to what I have to say. 

" Yesterday evening I was up with Susie 
(dear mother, send me some poultry and 
eggs, and a few pots of black currant jam, 
and anything else you can spare ; such things 
are so dear in London, and the poor child 
must not be allowed to sink), when Eliza- 
l^eth whispered that ^ a gentleman wanted to 
see me or missus particular.' 

'' 'I am afraid, miss, he ain't no good,' 
said Elizabeth ; ^ for the minit I opened the 
front door he bolted in without a word, and 
says he must see Mr. or Mrs. Sinclair, or 
some of the family.' 

'^ ^ Do you think he is a thief ? ' I asked. 
^ Is there anything in the hall he can take ? ' 

^^ ^ Oh, lor ! no, miss ; I don't think he's 
.a thief, I think he is something far worse 



22 Frank Sinclair'' s Wife, 

than that — something like him who came 
the night master went away.' 

" I am not given to fainting, as you know^ 
but I had to hold on by the bannister as I 
went downstairs. "We read of these sort of 
things in books, but we never quite under- 
stand the meaning of them till they come 
and meet us in the hall face to face, as that 
man did me. 

'^ ^ Mrs. Sinclair ? ' he said. 

" ^ No, her sister ; Mrs. Sinclair is ill,, 
and Mr. Sinclair from home.' 

^' ' So I heard,' he answered. 

" * Will you leave any message for him ? '" 
I asked. 

*' ^ Well, the fact of the matter is, miss — 
may I just go into this room and speak to 
you privately ? There is half a year's rent 
owing, and if you cannot pay me to-night I 
shall be obliged to leave a man here till the 
matter is arranged. Very sorry indeed, but 
business is business, and unpleasant business 
equally so.' 



At Br i ant View Terrace, 23 

" ^ You need not apologise,' I said : 
' please tell me the worst at once.' 

^'No doubt lie thought I was accustomed 
to such matters, for he put a paper into my 
hand, one word of which I could not read, 
whilst he proceeded to explain, so much for 
rent, so much for expenses, so much for 
something else. 

'' ^ But you know I cannot procure such an 
amount in a moment,' I said, ' more especi- 
ally at so late an hour. Why did you not 
come earlier ? ' 

^' * Ah ! miss,' he said, ^ we must just 
come when we can.' 

^' ' You are so busy ? ' I asked. 

'^ ^Wonderful busy, to be sure.' 

'' I could not tell you what I felt. The 
aggregation of misery that sentence implied 
overwhelmed me. Ours was no isolated 
case; in probably hundreds of houses the 
same scene was being enacted. Like death, 
these wretches respected no threshold ; 
unlike death, there was nothing of hope, 



24 Fra7ik Sinclair'^s Wife. 

nothing of sanctity, nothing exalting about 
the matter. It was all grovelling, human, 
pecuniary, wretched. 

" ' I will see what can be done to-morrow,' 
was my reply. 

^' ^ Yes, miss ; you'll excuse me^ but I 
must just make a little memorandum — mere 
matter of form, / liope^^ and the creature 
proceeded to make what I have since heard 
is called his inventory, whilst I, sitting in 
an arm-chair, which he had put down in his 
list, watched him. 

'' Shall I ever forget that man ? Shall I 
ever know perfect faith again, remembering 
that such people can be ? A. slight, not bad- 
looking individual of about thirty, who 
spoke very good English, and comported 
himself in a frank, superior style to much 
better and honester men — a person who had 
doubtless married suitably — who had a com- 
fortable home — daughters he hoped to marry 
above their rank — sons he meant to educate 
well, and perhaps train up to be ornaments 



At Briant View Terrace, 25 

to one of the learned professions. Are the 
sons of such men the black sheep of law, 
divinity, and physic ? Are the descendants 
of these the cowards who run away in battle, 
— who, unequal to an emergency when a 
vessel strikes at sea, crowd the boats, and 
leave women to perish? I do not wonder 
now at some Londoners keeping the secrets 
of their business sacred from their wives. 
For me, if I ever were to marry, I should 
prefer old Gibbs, who takes his week's dole 
from the Hall, to a cockney ofwhomlknew 
little ; for, after what I have seen, it would 
not surprise me, any day after marriage, to 
discover the beloved of my heart hat in hand, 
asking alms at Charing Cross. 

^^ This man of whom I speak wore a red 
camellia in his button-hole, and was alto- 
gether as dapper and well got-up as any 
clerk on his way to the City. He is, I 
find, an auctioneer, with every prospect of 
being some day worth more thousands per 
annum than we can count hundreds Pro- 



26 Frank Sinclair s Wife, 

bably he will eyentually buy a place in the 
country cheap, give five pounds a year to 
the schools, contribute a sovereign on col- 
lection Sundays, and die in the odour of 
sanctity. 

^^ To-night I am bitter, and hate every- 
body. Forgive me ; it is not Christian, but 
it is human. 

^^ Before he had got ^marble eight-day 
clock' down, there came a modest knock 
at the front door, which he answered him- 
self. 

^' ^ I shall be obliged to leave a man here, 
miss,' he said; ^but he will keep out of 
your way, and be quite quiet,' he added, 
as though speaking of a dog. Then he 
whispered some directions to his subordi- 
nate and left the house. 

'' ' Sit down here for a few minutes,' I 
said to the man ; and he obeyed me, putting 
his hat under the chair, and taking out a 
huge handkerchief to wipe himself withal. 

^' For a minute after the hall-door closed 



At Bria7it View Terrace. 27 

I stood silent, wondering what in the world 
I should do. What conld I say about the 
intruder — what did he propose to do with 
himself? "Was it a real fact, instead of a 
horrible dream, that he intended honouring 
me with his company for the night ? How 
could I keep it from Eella ? These ques- 
tions chased one after another through my 
brain; but an apologetic cough brought 
me suddenly back to myself. 

^' ^ I was just wondering what I could 
do with you,' I said, answering the crea- 
ture's unspoken question. 

'-'• ^ Well, miss, it certainly is disagreeable, 
particularly in such a house as this ; but 
I will keep myself to myself, and be as 
little in the way as possible. !N'o one need 
be a bit the wiser.' 

^' ^ I fancy several people are very much 
the wiser already,' I answered. ' However, 
that cannot be helped. Sit down for a few 
moments, and I will see what can be 
done.' 



28 Fra7ik Sinclair's Wife, 

'' Then I went np-stairs and had a good 
€ry — I could not help it, I was frightened. 
For the first time I had come face to face 
with the law ; and although the law's 
representative was only a decrepit old man, 
whom a good gust of wind might readily 
have blown out of Briant Yiew Terrace, 
still there was the awful power behind, the 
reality of which I had never comprehended 
till then. 

'^ Elizabeth went down and arranged mat- 
ters for me, heard all he had to say, settled 
where he was to be located, got him some- 
thing to eat, and then came up -stairs again, 
remarking that she had told him to lock 
the door inside. 

^^ ^ I was afraid of that Mrs. Eudge poking 
about,' the girl added; 'and oh, miss, can 
we get rid of her and keep it quiet among 
ourselves ? ' — which suggestion seemed so 
admirable, and, indeed, the prospect of Mrs. 
Eudge' s absence appeared altogether such 
a relief, that I paid her a week's wages and 



At Br i ant View Terrace. 29 

said for the present we should not. require 
her any more ; hearing which, she thanked 
me very much, and said it was a great 
convenience to her, as Eudge had been 
ailing much lately, and, further, she had 
been sent for by one or two of her best 
families to cook ' dinners ' for them — 

" ^ And that is better for me, of course, 
miss ; though being engaged here, to oblige 
Mr. Sinclair, in course I should never have 
mentioned such matters.' 

'^ ^ Thank you,' I said; but all the time 
I knew she was filled with envy, hatred, 
and spite, and that I had made a mistake. 
Better to have trusted her ; but one learns 
wisdom always too late — so late, indeed, 
that I often wonder what is the use of 
learning it at all. 

''1 did not tell Bella that night; I 
should not have told her at all had I seen 
any way out of the difficulty ; but after 
sending to the office and finding there was 
no money there — or at least no more than 



30 Frank Sinclair's Wife, 

I needed for CTirrent expenses — I went up 
to Bella's dressing-room and explained to 
her the exact state of the case. 

^^ ^ I hope they will not meddle with 
Susie's room,' was all the remark she made ; 
and then she got up and walked towards 
the cheval glass in a blind, helpless sort of 
way. !N'ext minute she was lying on the 
floor in a dead faint. 

" Poor Bella has had her share of trouble, 
I suspect, though she will not talk to or 
tell me about it. 

^^ She is most loonderfully improved ; I 
could not have believed in any trouble 
changing a person so much. She is humble 
and docile enough on every point save one, 
and that vexes me sadly. She absolutely 
refuses either to write or go to see Frank — 
why I cannot imagine. He has forbidden 
my coming to where he is ; but I must go, 
despite of this, for I hope to obtain a solu- 
tion of Bella's feelings, from him. I shall 
not close this letter till I return. 



At Briant View Terrace, :iyi 

^^ Just returned, oh.! mamma from such a 
place. Poor dear Frank ! I cannot see to 
tell you all about it, for I cannot keep from 
crying; and yet I feel happier about him 
and Bella than for many a day past. Will 
write again to-morrow. 

" Your loving Daughter, 

u Pattie." 



CHAPTEE XXIV. 

PATTY TO MRS. ST. CLAIR [continued). 

^^ Thursday/, 
''I COULD not send my letter to you yester- 
day, as promised, dear mother, for just as I 
was unlocking my desk to commence writing 
it, Elizabeth came to tell me there was 
another of those dreadful people below. I 
will not add anything more about this, as he 
did not, thank God, stay very long. He was 
sent by some milliner with whom Bella had 
dealt — the only domestic account outstand- 
ing, it appears, poor Frank haying so far as 
he knew paid off every sixpence of their 
private debts. 



Patty to Mrs. St, Clair, o^^) 

" Mr. Varham, the gentleman who was in 
partnership with Frank when Bella was first 
married, came up yesterday just when I was 
in perfect despaii*. 

^^ He had heard of our first trouble from 
Mr. McLean, and brought sufficient money 
to pay that off; but when he found there 
was a second difficulty, he discharged that 
debt instead, and this morning returned 
with enough to relieve us altogether. He 
was kindness itself; and I did not think I 
could have talked so freely of my anxieties 
to any one out of my own family. He has 
taken the whole conduct of Frank's affairs, 
and is thoughtful ness personified to every 
person excepting Bella. 

^' To her he spoke in a way which made 
me shiver. He said she had been the ruin 
of her husband's prospects and the bane of 
his life ; that she had married a good man 
and made existence intolerable to him ; that 
she had neglected Frank, and her children, 
and her household. 

VOL. II. D 



34 Frank Sinclair^ Wife. 

^^ ^ Did Frank ever tell you so ?" she asked 
at this juncture. 

'^ ^ 'No J he is not a man to cry his troubles 
out in the market-place,' Mr. Yarham an- 
swered; ^but other people are not blind, 
if a husband be dumb. And to crown 
everything, you refuse to write or go to 
him, quadrupling thereby the difficulties 
with which I have already to contend.' 

^^'No, I cannot go, and I cannot write,' 
she said a little sullenly. And then I en- 
treated him to spare her. 

" ' She has enough sorrow already,' I 
began. ^Poor Susie will not be left to us 
long, and Frank is away, and she herself is 
ill; and, besides, we have none of us yet 
heard her side of the question. Bella, when 
are you going to exorcise your dumb spirit 
and speak?' 

^' 'Ah! Patty, it is not so easy to speak 
sometimes,' she replied. And then she put 
her arms about my neck and kissed me; 
after which she left the room crying. 



Patty to Mrs. St. Clair. 35 

^^ Since that time* she has never been 
away from Susie's bedside, though I think 
every time the poor child cries for '- papa ' it 
is like a stab to Bella. 

'^Do you not think, darling mother, you 
could now manage to come up for a few 
days? Bella might talk to you more 
unreservedly than to any one else ; and 
I am confident it only requires a sentence to 
put matters right between her and Frank. 

" She says the reason Mr. Varham is so 
bitter against her is that his wife and she 
could not agree, and have not visited for 
years; ^but if he can do any good for 
Frank,' she went on, 'it does not matter 
what he thinks of me.' 

'''Dear Bella,' I replied, 'I wish you 
would tell me all about it.' 

" ' I cannot,' was the only answer I could 
get. She does not seem able to endure 
a single question on the subject of her 
City experience; but little things crop 
up every now and then, which give me 

D 2 



36 Frank Sinclair's Wife, 

some faint idea of what she must have 
suffered. 

^Tor instance, the day after that man 
came, I asked her if it would not be better 
to dispose of her jewellery — you remember 
Erank constantly gave her beautiful orna- 
ments, and then there was the set of pearls 
her godfather left her. After a good deal of 
fenciQg and hesitation, it came out that she 
had already utilised these things. 

" ' They are not sold, I believe,' she said, 
^ but Mr. McLean borrowed me some money 
on their security.' 

" * What a time you must have had, 
Bella ! ' I said. ^ Why in the world* did 
you not tell Frank all about it ? I declare 
I have no more patience with you both than 
I might with a pair of refractory children. 

^' ' It was my fault ; do not blame Frank,' 
she answered. (There is a change! I call 
the ^Taming of the Shrew' nothing in 
comparison to Bella's conversion.) 

'* ' Eeally !' I remarked — the observation 
was not kind, but it was irresistible — 4t 



Patty to Mrs, St. Clair, 37 

would not much surprise me to see you 
darn another pair of stockings before I die.' 
Whereupon she answered, she only wished 
she had nothing else to do or think about. 

^^ ^ I would rather go on the treadmill 
than re-live that short time in the City.' 
And I believe she would, although, as I told 
her, she knew as little practically about the 
happiness of treadmilling as she did six 
months since concerning the delights of 
managing a business. 

" I have now to speak of my visit to 
Frank. Of all the misery of this wretched 
affair, his seems to me the worst. We, 
at least, have, spite of every trouble, a 
comfortable house — comfortable beds to sleep 
on, comfortable rooms where we can go and 
cry when the fit is on us ; but fancy a man 
— fancy a gentleman being turned into a 
place amongst the lowest of the low, forced 
to consort with them, compelled to listen to 
their talk, to live, eat, sleep amongst the 
very scum of society ! 



38 Frank Sinclair's Wife. 

'* Don't show this to papa, because of 
course he does not think there is any scum ; 
but only let him visit Whitecross Street, 
and he will alter his opinion. 

^^Dear mamma, even the way to "White- 
cross Street is a marvel. I took an omnibus 
to the General Post Office, from whence I 
inquired my way — shamefacedly, I must 
confess, for I thought every one would know 
my errand. 

'•'' I was to walk on till I got to Jewin 
Street, which I did; and next I reached 
Fore Street, passing en route Cripplegate 
Church — the bells of which, Frank tells me, 
play some air every hour, and the Hun- 
dredth Psalm at midnight. I should think 
the Hundredth Psalm was never heard to 
such disadvantage as from Whitecross Street 
Prison. There is a portion, too, of the old 
London "Wall in Cripplegate Churchyard; 
but I do not want to see it. I never wish, 
even for the sake of antiquities, to go near 
"Whitecross Street again. 



Patty to Mj's. St. Clair, 39 

'^ Cripplegate ChTirch is in Fore Street, 
and "Whitecross Street is the first turning 
to the left after you pass the chui'ch. 

" Eeturning I was in such perturbation of 
spirit that I lost my way, and I got into 
a thoroughfare lined with costermongers' 
barrows ; where dreadful things in the shape 
of fish and vegetables were displayed for 
sale; where the shouting of the men was 
enough to deafen one, and the chattering of 
the women who had come to market simply 
indescribable. A good Samaritan showed 
me the way out of this Cretan labyrinth; 
but, unhappily, I lost myself again, and 
came first to a street where I should think 
there were enough saddles, and whips, and 
bridles, and horsecloths to have lasted 
London for twenty years, and then to a 
great space filled with cattle-pens, and 
called Smithfield. 

"By way of Bartholomew's Hospital — 
which bounds one side of this space, and 
which, tell dear papa, I do not think one 



40 Frank Sinclair's Wife, 

bit historical or romantic-looking — I reached 
Giltspur Street, and so, as Pepys says, to 
Newgate Street. 

^'Newgate Prison faced me, grim and 
black, as I passed the east end of Saint 
Sepulchre's Church; and I had come 
straight (with a few mistakes) from another 
prison. 

^^ Shall I ever think of a man ^ in trouble' 
lightly in the future? Will 'committed,' 
or ' taken into custody,' or ' arrested ' ever 
have anything but a terrible meaning for 
me again ? 

''I am at a loss to decide whether it is 
well or ill for people thoroughly to under- 
stand such misery. 

'^ I feel it must be hard to pass through 
life without understanding in some small 
degree the trials and temptations of other 
people ; and yet I should not like to become 
familiarised with them. 

''That beautiful prayer would be mine, I 
think, in reference to misfortune. ' Give me 



Patty to Mrs. St. Clair, 41 

neither poyerty nor riches,' said he of old 
time. ^ Give me neither complete non-under- 
standing nor complete understanding,' I 
should entreat ; '- give me just enough know- 
ledge to sympathise with these people's 
troubles, but spare me the knowledge of 
how their troubles came to be deserved.' 
For I am not as a God, understanding good 
and evil, and it seems to me that when one 
leaves one's own peaceful home nothing but 
trouble and sin are abroad to meet one. 

^^I wander, though, from Frank. Ad- 
mitted into the prison, I was conducted 
across a yard about as large as the kitchen 
garden at the Hall — surrounded on three 
sides by high walls blackened by London 
smoke, and on the fourth by the building. 

^^ In this yard he was summoned by name 
— ' Francis Sinclair ! Francis Sinclair ! ' 

^' I was passing through the door of the 
visitors' room at the moment, and felt in- 
clined to read the turnkey a lecture on the 
distinctions of rank. 



42 ^ Frank Sinclair's Wife, 

"Fortunately, however, I remembered that 
a prisoner is a prisoner all the world over, 
and that if, in addition, he chance to be a 
gentleman in debt, the law punishes him 
much more severely than it would had he 
committed some much more grievous crime 
than '• falling into difficulties.' 

"The ordinary Englishman's God being 
Money, it is natural he should visit any 
profanation of that shrine with treble penal- 
ties. All the foregoing, I should tell you, 
is Frank second-hand. Pray do not ac- 
credit me with the possession of so many 
original ideas. 

"As I stood in the doorway, waiting, 
with all eyes in the yard turned to look, 
Frank came from a corner where he had 
been walking up and down by himself, and 
crossed the pavement. 

" You never saw such a change ! I really 
was shocked, but felt so thankful I had gone 
to see him, though he said, ^ Patty, Patty ! 
how could you do such a thing ? I would 



Patty to Mrs. St. Clair. 43 

not have had you come to such a place on 
any consideration.' 

^' ^ I am here, Frank/ I answered, ^ and 
there is an end of it; and now I want to 
talk to you.' 

" ^ There is no place where I can speak to 
you privately,' he said. 

" ^ That cannot be helped,' I replied; ^better 
to speak anywhere than not at all ; ' and so 
we walked side by side to the other end of 
the long room. 



44 



CHAPTEE XXY. 

PATTY TO MRS. ST. CLAIR — CcontirmedJ. 

^' Oh, mamma! how can I describe it? 
Such, a room ! with the floor so dirty that I 
was obliged to gather my skirts around me 
as I crossed it, and sat down on a wooden 
bench, with a deal table in front of us, that 
had never been scrubbed in its life, and 
was filthy with beer-stains and tobacco-ash, 
whilst names and initials were cut in all 
directions. 

" ' Well, Patty,' he began. He had 
asked about Susie when we first met. 

'' ' Well, Frank,' I answered. 

'' ' Why are you here, after all I said 
about your not coming ? ' 



Patty to Mrs, St. Clair. 45 

^^ ^ I have come to know why you are 
here. No one can give me the slightest 
information. Every one seems to think you 
might be at home if you liked.' 

^^ ^ Who is every one ? ' 

*^ ^ I cannot exactly tell ' 

^^ ^ If you mean Mr. McLean and Bella, 
I fear neither is a very competent judge of 
the matter. No ; twenty -four hours before 
I came here I might have averted this 
trouble, had I only known of its existence ; 
but now I must be a bankrupt before I can 
free myself from my creditors. That is the 
plain English of the affair, and I am trying 
to face the inevitable as weU as I can.' 

" ^ But, Frank, what has been the cause 
of it ? ' I asked. ^ Were you really ill, or 
was it that you could endure Bella's nagging 
no longer.' 

^^ ' Please do not speak in that way, 
Patty,' he interrupted — 'of my wife,' he 
added after a slight pause. 

" You and your wife will never live hap- 



46 Frank Sinclair s Wife. 

pily unless some one speaks out his or her 
mind to both of you/ I answered. ' You 
have gone on bearing, and she encroaching, 
till the result is you are here, and she 
moping in her own room, crying for hours 
together. Whatever sins Bella may have 
committed, she is sincerely sorry for them 
now, and she blames herself for everything 
that has happened.' 

" ^ Then why does she neither write nor 
send to me ? ' he asked. » 

'^ ^I think she is afraid or ashamed,' 
I replied. ^ If you were to write to 
her ' 

'^ At this point, however, he interrupted 
me. ' Patty,' he said, ' some day I hope to 
return to my home, and I want that home 
to be happier than it has hitherto proved. 
If I took the initiative now, Bella would 
regard it as a sign of weakness or a con- 
fession of having been in the wrong. That 
I have been utterly in the wrong, I admit, 
but not in the way she supposes.' 



Patty to Mrs. St. Clair. 47 

" ^ She is quite changed, however,' I said 
eagerly ; but he only shook his head. 

'-'- ^ She has been in trouble lately, but 
people do not really change the opinions of 
a lifetime in a moment.' 

'' ^They are not the opinions of her life- 
time,' I said ; ' she never had any of those 
sort of notions when she was a girl, only 
she had naturally a discontented temper, 
and you indulged her so much, she thought 
there was no one so clever or so little appre- 
ciated as she. And then there were those 
dreadful people who brought a bad influ- 
ence to bear upon her. Besides, like most 
women, she had only the vaguest idea of 
your actual position. She thought you were 
much richer than was actually the case, and 
it irritated her when you seemed vexed at 
being asked for money. Being lazy too — 
for Bella was always lazy — it was less trouble 
to let the servants manage the house than 
to manage it herself, and they ran her into 
debt and difficulties of all sorts.' 



48 Frank Sinclaif^s Wife. 

"- ' Poor Bella ! ' he said. 

^' 'And you will write to her?' I en- 
treated. He did not answer for a minute, 
but sat there tracing with his fore-finger the 
letters which went to make up the name of 
^Edward,' carved on the table; at last he 
said — 

'' ' When I first allowed Bella to take my 
place in the City, I vowed I would never 
resume business, never again try to step into 
my proper position as head of the household 
and breadwinner for it, till my wife asked 
me to do so. She has not done so yet. I have 
no means of knowing what her real opinions 
may be. Very likely she still thinks me 
just as perverse and disagreeable as she 
always did. Oh, Bella ! ' he suddenly broke 
off, ' if I only knew what I could do or leave 
undone to make our life happier, I should 
not care even for this.' 

" 'You dear, good Frank, you will be 
happy yet, please God.' 

" ' There is not much prospect of it at 



Patty to Mrs. St. Clair, 49 



present, Patty,' he said sorrowfully, and as 
my eye followed his while it glanced round 
the room, I could not but know how horribly 
true his words were. 

*^ Ah ! mother, the misery of that place — 
the pale women who were sitting there, 
talking to degraded reckless men ; the keen- 
looking attorneys' clerks who were writing 
down particulars ; the horsey betting people 
who had come to see old friends whose ill- 
luck had ^ run,' as I heard one of them say, 
people with horse-shoe gilt scarf-pins, gaudy 
neck-ties, wonderful cutaway coats, tight 
trousers, and canes ornamented with horses' 
heads, which latter they sucked when not 
drinking ale or smoking cigars ; with here 
and there a quiet married couple who talked 
in whispers as to how the wife should manage 
till the husband '• got out,' made up a tout 
ensemble of misery difficult, I should imagine, 
to match in any other place in London. 

'^^It is here they put off their masks, ^ 
said Frank. ' Here I have seen the great- 

VOL. II. E 



50 Frank Sinclair's Wife. 

est devil-may-care in the prison crying over 
the baby his wife brought in her arms. 
Here men confess, as one may say, to their 
lawyers or their friends. Here anxiety 
takes the place of bravado. Here misery 
can be found au naturel without the accom- 
paniments of blasphemy, ribald jokes, and 
fiendish laughter. It is awfully real, Patty, 
this visitors' room — to which you must 
never come again.' 

"^ Why not?' I asked. 
'^ ^ There is an old proverb, ^ You can- 
not touch pitch,' is there not ? 

^^ ' Yes, but it is not of universal appli- 
cation; every woman living must touch 
pitch some time or other, and it is her own 
fault whether she be contaminated by the 
contact or not. At all events I intend to 
try the experiment.' 

" ' You must not, Patty. If you persist 
I shall ask the governor to give orders that 
you are not to be admitted.' 

" ^ Are you serious in saying it pains 
you to see me here ?' 



Patty to Mrs. St. Clair. 51 

^^ ^ More than words can tell.' 
^' ' Would it grieve you to see Bella ?' 
" ^ I should not like her to comprehend 
such a wretched place existed.' So he 
said, and yet all the time I knew he was 
longing to see her even there. I am going 
to make up the quarrel, no matter how it 
may have originated, wishing for nothing so 
much as for Bella to take omnibus, and walk 
from the Post Office to Jewin Street, and 
thence to the prison. 

^^ Eeally the sight of this man's patient 
untiring love is enough to make one wish to 
marry ! The worst of it is I should never 
get such a husband. It is only women like 
Bella, who take everything and give nothing 
back, who achieve such fortune. But yet I 
fancy Bella would give a good deal to hear 
Frank say 'I forgive you,' though what 
there may be to forgive I cannot exactly 
teU. 

" She is wonderfully improved and has, I 
hope, learned a lesson. university of 

E 2 "■'"'^^O'S LIBRARY 



52 Frank Sinclair's Wife. 

^' The proof of the pudding is, however, 
in the eating, and when Frank returns I 
trust he may find Bella everything she 
ought to be. 

'^I told him I felt sure she missed him 
dreadfully. '- She never ceases fretting and 
reproaching herself, ' I finished ; but he only 
smiled sadly, after the fashion of one who 
thought I was amiably trying to put a 
pleasant face on a disagreeable fact ; and so 
as I knew I could say nothing to convince 
him, I squeezed his hand till I know it must 
have ached, for I was trying to keep from 
crying, and — came away. 

^^ And since then, as I told you, Mr. Yar- 
ham has been, and I hope^ and trusty and 
believe he will manage to get things right 
somehow. 

^' But, dear mother, if you or my father 
can come, do. Frank wants some one to 
talk to him, wiser than I am, and so does 
Bella. Good-bye. — Ever your loving 
Daughter, " Patty.'' 



53 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

MRS. ST. CLAIE TO HER HUSBAND. 

'' B riant View Terrace, 

'' My dear Fitzliugli, — 

^^ I arrived here safely this afternoon, and 
could I only know your health was continuing 
to improve, and that the dear girls are seeing 
to your comfort and insisting on your taking 
medicine and nourishment at the proper 
hours, thankful, indeed, should I feel to be 
with my two poor children in their trouble. 

" As for Patty, I need not tell you how she 
bears up under all she has had to endure. 
Certainly, she is the bravest as well as the 
most unselfish creatui'e I ever met. She 
is thinner and paler than when she left us, 
out her smile is as bright, and her manner 



54 Fra7ik Sinclair's Wife. 

as cheerful as if she had never passed 
through so frightful an ordeal. 

^* Poor, dear, self-willed, self-opinionated, 
utterly mistaken Bella, what can I write 
about her, except that she is heart-broken ? 
If I know anything of the symptoms of 
remorse, she has endured, and is enduring, 
agonies of repentance. At last she has dis- 
covered what a cold comforter the world is — 
what a hollow affair friendship generally 
proves — what a generous, forbearing man 
she married — and last, but not least, she 
has arrived at some understanding of herself. 

"God grant she may not have come to 
a knowledge of these things too late ! 

" Naturally, I feel most for her. Granted 
that she did try Frank's patience — and I 
have no doubt she did beyond the bounds of 
endurance — he ought never to have allowed 
his wife to have become so completely master 
of the position. 

'' It is all very well to ask, as Mr. Yarham 
asks me, what he was to do ? as if he had 



Mrs, St. Clair to her Husband, 55 

been powerless. I answer, lie ouglit never 
to have given the reins ont of his own hands ; 
and that if Bella were to blame for their 
domestic unhappiness, he alone is responsible 
for the pecuniary trouble which has fallen 
upon them. 

^' And yet, when it comes across my mind 
— as I cannot help the thought doing — that 
it is a daughter of ours, over whose birth we 
rejoiced, whom I nursed through her child- 
ish illness, whom I tried to train up to be 
a discreet, unselfish, loving woman — who 
has brought this misery on herself and her 
husband — my heart seems to die away 
within me. 

^' When I contrast her and Patty, and see 
how much stronger nature is than training, 
I feel disheartened to think how little even 
the fondest parent can effect in the way of 
forming the character of her child. 

" But all this time I am not telling you 
that you must be more anxious to hear. 

Mr. Yarham seems to think there is still 



56 Frank Sinclair's Wife, 

some hope for Frank's business, always 
supposing he can be induced to talk freely 
to his friends, and put his shoulder bravely 
to the wheel. 

'' Whether there is a hope for Susie I feel 
doubtful. The fact is, the child has been 
neglected. Poor Patty has done her best, 
but that best cannot, I fear, have been 
very excellent — called away from the sick 
room by other duties — distracted by other 
anxieties, and, beyond all things, short of 
money to provide those necessaries which, 
little as they seem, cost so much ! 

'-'- We have altered all that now. The poor 
darling wants for nothing. I felt it my 
duty to speak seriously to Bella about 
Susie's state, and I am thankful to see she 
takes her part — and more than her part — ia 
nursing her child. 

" The perpetual cry for ^ papa' must, I 
know, go to her very soul, but she bears up 
wonderfully ; indeed, I would rather see her 
more moved. 



Mrs, St. Clair to her Husband, 57 

^^ There must come a reaction, for she 
seems now to have nerved herself to go 
through her task without tear or complaint. 

" Sometimes, when I look at her poor 
white face — at her shrinking attitude — at her 
altered and humbled expression — I cannot 
help taking her in my arms and saying, ^ My 
dear — my poor suffering dear.' 

^^Then she puts me away — quietly and 
gently, but firmly. 

'-'- ' Don't, mother ; what I have to do I will 
do as well as I can ; but I cannot if you 
pity me.' 

" There is one thing she ought to do, how- 
ever, that I cannot induce her to perform, 
namely, go to her husband. 

" ' No,' she says wearily, ' Frank hates 
me — he must hate me. I have ruined him ; 
I have made his home wretched; I have 
been neither a good wife nor a good mother. 
If Susie were only well again, I should like 
to go and hide myself where no one I ever 
knew should see my face again.' 



58 Frank Sinclair^ Wife, 

" ^ And supposing tliat little Susie never 
gets well again?' I asked. 

^^ ^ Then I wish I could be buried with her. 
Perhaps Frank would forget then and have 
a kindly thought of me, for the sake of the 
old days when we were so happy. Oh ! 
mother, limo happy we were once.' 

" I have spoken to Mr. Yarham about her, 
but he seems very bitter and intolerant. If 
he could see her poor changed face, and 
understand how unfeigned is her repentance, 
he would not judge her so severely. 

^^ Patty evidently is the realisation of his 
ideal of what a woman should be. Dear 
Patty, I wonder if that old fancy which I 
feel no doubt Bella tried to nip in the bud 
has been the cause of her being still single. 

'^ Supposing this to be the case, I imagine 
Frank will have a most powerful friend 
in Mr. Yarham. As you know, I am 
utterly averse to matchmaking, bat I cannot 
help seeing that Mr. Yarham is devoted to 
our Patty. 



Mrs. St. Clair to her Husband, 59 



'-'- When he first came to Bella's assistance 
Patty was not aware he had been for years a 
widower, so there could be no second feeling 
to prevent her talking to him freely, as she 
might to a brother of her own or Frank's ; 
and I am ver}' glad of this. When I came, 
however, he lost no time in telling me of 
his lonely position, and I drew my con- 
clusions. As you will observe, I have 
written this letter on two separate days. 

^^ To-morrow I go to see Frank. Whenever 
there is any change for the better or the worse, 
you may depend upon hearing from me again. 

" Tell one of the girls to let me have a 
letter each day, if it only contains a line to 
say you continue to improve. 

^' As ever, my dear Fitzhugh, 

^^ I am your loving wife." 

Sitting up in bed — looking rather wifeless 
and forlorn — ^but still with creature comforts 
about him in the shape of a good fire, and 
a breakfast-tray presided over by Eosina^ 



6o Frank Sinclair's Wife, 

who had never married, and was never likely 
now to marry — who still painted indifferent 
pictures and performed Beethoven to the 
admiration of visitors who came to visit 
at the Eectory, — but in whom time had 
happily developed a number of domestic and 
attractive qualities besides those apper- 
taining to such genius as she possessed, — 
the Eeverend Fitzhugh St. Clair perused 
the foregoing epistle penned by his better 
half, and smiled as he did so. 

^' What news, papa ? " asked Miss Eosina, 
who, perhaps, because of her age, adhered 
to a juvenile style of addressing her parents, 
long abandoned by the younger members of 
the family. 

^^ You can read it," he answered. '' We 
must not begin to make mysteries amongst 
ourselves at this time of day, eh ! Eosy." 

For reply she kissed him ; and then 
before she looked at the letter, poured 
out his tea and handed him his toast, and 
took the top off his ^^g. After that she sat 



Mrs. St, Clair to her Husband, 6i 

down before the fire and read what her 
mother had written. 

'^We should miss Patty, papa," she re- 
marked. 

" That we should, Eosy,'^ answered the 
clergyman ; '' but it is better we were in 
such case than a good man." 

^' Patty will write the next letter," re- 
marked Miss Eosina. 

^' What ! to say she is engaged ? I do not 
believe in such sharp practice as all that 
comes to," said the Eector, handing over his 
cup for another supply of tea. 

*'You mistake me, papa," replied his 
eldest-born, vindicating the reticence of 
her sex with a not unbecoming dignity. 
'^ Patty will write the next letter because 
Bella and Frank will by that time have 
made up their quarrel." 

" I trust you may prove a true prophet," 
commented Mr. St. Clair. " The quarrels of 
lovers are poor trumpery affairs ; but those 
of husband and wife are serious matters." 



62 Frank Shiclair's Wife. 



Three mornings after, when Miss St. Clair 
entered her father's room, she said — 

" I have been a true prophet ; this is from 
Patty, papa." 

" Open and read it," answered Mr. St. 
Clair. ^'Il^otwithstanding Patty's privates 
and confidentials — and only for father and 
mother — she never writes a line, or thinks 
a thought, one might not read before a full 
congregation on Sunday." 

^^ Dearest father," began Miss Eosina. 
^* We are all so happy ; my mother cannot 
write to you and I must. Dear Frank — 
dear — dear — dearest Frank has been home ; 
and though he is gone — though, poor 
fellow, he had to go — it is all right between 
him and Bella. 

" Yesterday afternoon we thought every- 
thing was wrong as it could be — that he 
must stay in "Whitecross Street — that there 
was no hope for his business — that Susie 
would never see her papa again — that dear 
Bella's mistake was irremediable ; but a few 



Mrs, St. Clair to her Husband, 63 

hours afterwards a cab drove up to the door, 
and Mr. Yarham came in, followed by 
Frank — such a poor, weak, wasted, changed 
Frank, but still in the flesh. 

^^ ^I want to see my wife and Susie,' he 
said. I would have gone up-stairs to pre- 
pare Bella for his arrival, but Mr. Yarham 
held me back. 

"^Let him go to her,' he whispered; 
^ they will settle matters better alone.' 

^' And they did. Dear mother, who was 
in the dressing-room, told me about it. 

^^ Susie was tossing from side to side, as is 
her usual way, moaning for papa, and Bella, 
worn out with grief and watching, knelt by 
the bedside murmuring, ^ My darling, you 
are breaking mamma's heart; if her life could 
bring papa to you he would be here now." 

'^ He laid his hand on her head and said, 
'- Bella dearest, I am here.' 

" And she flung her arms about him and 
kissed him as, I do not believe, she ever did 
before in his life, and then she fainted away ; 



64 Frank Sinclair's Wife, 

and he, weak though he is, gathered enough 
strength to carry her into the dressing- 
room, where mother stood crying fit to break 
her heart. 

" ' I must go,' he said; ' but teU BeUa I 
love her just the same as I did when I asked 
her to marry me, and more.' He then went 
back to where Susie lay and told her — 

^' * Papa has to leave his little one for a few 
days ; she will be good and get well while 
he is away.' 

" Would you believe it, the darling has 
Iain with a smile on her lips ever since, and 
the doctors — we have now plenty of them — 
say there is a chance for her life. 

" Frank has gone to France, to be out of 
the way till matters are arranged for him 
here by Mr. Yarham. 

*^ I leave to-morrow for home with the 
children. Darling mother says I am to take 
them all home — all except poor Susie. Mr. 
Yarham insists upon seeing me and them 
safe to our journey's end ; so pray tell Eosy 
she must expect a visitor." 



CHAPTER XXVn. 

CONCLUSION. 

Have I, the writer of this story, anything 
more to tell ? But little I admit ; and that 
little will not require much space. 

Mr. Yarham took Frank Sinclair's busi- 
ness under his charge, Frank Sinclair being 
abroad, and carried it on under McLean's 
management until his friend's creditors came 
to their senses, and were willing to accept a 
guaranteed but deferred pa^nnent of twenty 
shillings in the pound. "When all that was 
settled, Yarham and Sinclair resumed their 
old relations, and Sinclair's offices rejoiced 
in the presence of a senior partner once 
more. 

VOL. n. F 



66 Frank Sinclair's Wife, 



The house in Briant Yiew Terrace was 
given up whenever Susie could be removed, 
and a house, not nearer the business, but 
much further off, was taken in the country 
for Bella and her children, by the especial 
request of Frank Sinclair's wife. 

Ere these events, however, came fully to 
pass, another wedding had been celebrated 
by the Eeverend Fitzhugh St. Clair. 

On that occasion Patty became Mrs. Var- 
ham ; and if the marriage were a very quiet 
one, and ungraced by the presence of Sirs or 
Ladies, it has proved none the less happy on 
that account. 

There is a large firm now in the City 
which has weathered many panics, and 
survived many commercial crises. It has 
done a sound business for many years, and 
it is doing remarkably well now, and the 
men who compose the firm are — Yarham 
and Frank Sinclair. 

In a country suburb, surrounded by green 
fields and pleasant woods, two houses stand 
in pleasant and neighbourly contiguity. 



Conclusion, 67 



The smaller belongs to a man with a large 
family, the larger to a man whose wedding- 
day seems quite a recent event. 

But these details make no difference in 
the friendly feeling or the sisterly associa- 
tion. 

Patty's last baby crows in the arms of 
Bella's first-born ; and Susie, to whom her 
long and dangerous illness has given a 
certain premature turn of mind, meditates 
concerning papa and her lessons in the leafy 
gardens of Mr. Yarham, Frank Sinclair's 
rich partner and best friend. 



MY FIRST LOVE. 



MY FIRST LOVE. 



CHAPTER I. 

OUR FIRST 3IEETIXG. 



I AM sitting alone in my chambers, holding 
in my hand a miniature. It is the likeness 
of a child — My First Loye. 

Above the mantelpiece hangs an oil paint- 
ing. It is the portrait of a woman — My 
Last Loye. 

The whole of my life — my real life, I 
mean, not that which I lead when I am 
talking in court with my gown and wig on 
— or when I am at home with my children, 
now grown up about me, and my wife, still 



72 My First Love, 



a handsome •woman, embroidering a pair of 
slippers, which can only be intended for 
wear in the next world, since there seems no 
reasonable probability of their being eyer 
finished in this — not my life as it appears 
when I am telling my best after-dinner 
stories, or poring over the briefs which 
now, quicker than I want them, are sent 
to me by complaisant solicitors — not my 
outward and visible life that I pass amongst 
my fellows, but the real existence I spend 
with myself and my memory — has been in- 
fluenced, coloured, shaded, by these two 
faces. Not more utterly were the ivory and 
the canvas changed by the painter's brush 
tracing the portraits of child and woman on 
them, than has my life been made what it is 
by the first love, and the last love which 
these likenesses recall. 

Eecall ! I have written and will not 
cancel the word ; but oh ! friends, the 
memory of all I hoped, of all I possessed, of 
all I lost, of all I suffered, is never so far 



Our First Meeting. 73 

away from me as to need any extraneous 
circumstances, any efiPort of mind, to bring 
back to remembrance. 

At any moment, wbether I am amongst 
my fellows, or alone with my papers and 
books, I can wbisper in the ear of that long 
ago time. It has never died to me. In my 
musty chambers a fragrance of the primroses 
and the violets that studded bank and copse 
in those blissful spring days, is wafted to 
me. Amid the roar of the London traffic I 
hear like a still small voice the murmur of 
the river, the gentle rustling of the wind 
amongst the topmost branches of the trees. 
When my blinds are down and my lamp 
lighted, I can see the field paths untrodden 
for a quarter of a century — the church in 
the distance — the children gathering wild 
flowers, aye, the very brambles growing by 
the wayside. 

Sometimes in my dreams the burden of 
years drops off, and with no knowledge as 
to what the future might hold for me, I 



74 My First Love, 

wander through the woods hand-in-hand 
with one who loved to look for the blue 
bonnets' nest in the quick-set hedge, to 
gather the earliest apple-pie and meadow 
sweet that grew so abundantly beside the 
little stream where once we beheld a king- 
fisher who was wont to make for herself 
parasols, and swords, and butterfly cages, 
out of the rushes which throye in the piece 
of moorland that stretched between our 
cottage and the old mill. 

I feel the sunshine dazzling my eyes, and 
the warm touch of the little fingers thrust 
into mine. I look down and I see the child 
with her fair hair, and her white skin, and 
her clear guileless blue eyes. There is a 
sound of running water — a twittering of 
birds amongst the trees — and then I wake 
to find what was once the reality of my 
existence, is now its romance — that like the 
days of my youth, the love of my youth is 
mine no more, and that though I were to 
revisit those scenes where I passed all the 



Our First Meeting, 75 

happiest part of my life, I could never look 
upon them with the same eyes again as I 
did in the years the events of which seem 
all to be enacting over again as I sit, as I 
have said, on this Christmas Eve, looking at 
the miniature of a child — My First Love. 

Oh, dear love, how well I remember that 
scorching Midsummer's- day when we be- 
came acquainted ; and as I recollect that 
your eyes were full of tears caused by the 
childish trouble out of which I tried to help 
you, my own brim over at the thought that 
the last time we met you were weeping — for- 
very gratitude and thankfulness you said, 
darling — but your cheeks were pale and 
worn, love, by reason of the sorrow which 
had preceded that relief. 

It all comes back to me not as a memory, 
but as a presence — there winds the country 
lane shaded by trees — I am approaching the 
bridge that spans the stream where such 
fine trout, all speckled and glistening, hide 
themselves beneath the stones, or dart after 



76 My First Love, 

the insects which settle for an instant on 
the water. The parapet of the bridge is 
low on the one side, and I can see the soft 
rich country landscape steeped in the sum- 
mer sunshine, with the river — so low that 
one could almost cross it dryshod, fot the 
bed is full of gravel and flint rocks, and 
large stones washed down by the winter's 
floods — trickling leisurely on its way. The 
wall on the other side is higher, and so 
covered with ivy, which has been trained 
to form a hedge on the top, that I cannot 
obtain even a peep into the grounds it con- 
ceals ; but when I have nearly crossed the 
bridge, I hear a sudden cry, followed by 
bitter sobs, and a scream in a stronger voice 
for help. 

^' Hillo ! " I shouted, in reply. 

"Oh! come — oh! please, please, do!" 
and thus entreated, I jumped over the low 
fence on the other side of the bridge, ran 
over the sloping green field to the water's 
edge, and was picking my steps under the 



Our First Meeting. 77 

arch as best I could, wlien two children 
called out simultaneously with breathless 
anxiety, 

*^ There — there — stop it.'' 

The '^ it," was a bag — reticule is, I be- 
lieve, the more correct term — floating past 
on a little current into which it had managed 
to drift. Where I was standing, the water 
scarcely seemed to ripple, but on the other 
side of the arch the stream really flowed 
rapidly, and before I could even strive to 
seize the bag, it was beyond my reach. For 
full five minutes I pursued that thing which 
seemed almost endued with life, so persist- 
ently did it elude all my attempts to cap- 
ture it ; but at length, when it caught in a 
bramble, the long straggling branches of 
which dipped into the stream, I succeeded 
in recovering the lost treasure. 

It was hardly worth the wetting I got, 
or, at least, I thought so, as I looked at the 
dripping morsel of finery. It was knitted 
with fine blue purse silk, lined with white 



78 My First Love, 

satin, trimmed with blue cord and tassels, 
and the reader may consequently imagine 
what an effect the water had produced 
upon it. Eeticules were the fashion in 
those days — if tight dresses remain in, 
the impossibility of pockets will bring them 
into fashion again before another Christmas 
comes round, and the wonderful pouches 
which my wife occasionally exhibits — de- 
claring they belonged to her great-grand- 
mother — heaven forgive her the implication 
— will come in for the girls who may be 
induced to use them, if only to prove they 
had a great-grandmother. 

Whether or not, however, the partner of 
my joys can recollect reticules being com- 
monly carried, my age and memory enable 
me to do so, and as I held the dripping 
article at arms' length, and watched the 
April shower it flung on the stream, I knew 
it would never be fit to show its face in 
polite society again. 

However, that was not my fault. I had 



Our First Meeting, 79 

done everything possible, and got very wet 
into the bargain, and I did not expect any 
further demands to be made npon my 
gallantry, when suddenly Joan — my sister 
— one of the children who had been making 
«uch an outcry, exclaimed, 

^^ And now, Tom, how are we to dry it ? " 
I had reached the pair by this time — they 
were standing on a httle promontory of 
gravel that stretched out into the stream — 
and looking down what seemed to me an 
immense distance — for I was tall of my age, 
and she but a wee bit of a thing — I saw for 
the first time Eose Surry, who, stretching 
out both her tiny hands for the bag, said, 
with her eyes full of tears, and her poor 
little heart still beating like that of a 
frightened bird — ^' Oh, sir, thank you very, 
very much ! " 

To Joan, I was only her big brother back 
from school for the holidays, but to this 
child I was a stranger, and something like a 
man, and her manner had that charming 



8o My First Love. 

hesitancy and shyness about it, which to me 
is just as delicious in a child as in a woman, 
and which seems doubly delicious now-a- 
days when neither women nor children are 
either hesitating or shy. 

A fragile little creature, dressed all in 
white — she wore a soft white sun-bonnet, 
and a white muslin pelerine trimmed with 
lace, she had light cashmere boots, the toes 
of which were tipped with still lighter 
coloured leather, and she looked altogether 
as though she were just turned out of some 
dainty box lined with silver and tissue 
paper. I^ot a speck, not a soil on boots or 
dress. 

Dolly, robed in state, and kept from con- 
tact from ordinary humanity, was never 
more immaculate than the little lady who 
thanked me with so innocent a grace, and 
looked at the drenched reticule so pitifully. 

"How are we to dry it, Tom?" my 
sister repeated, and as she spoke I looked at 
her. 



Our First Meeting. 8i 



Now people said Joan Luttrell was pretty, 
and the making of a handsome girl ; but 
for my part I must say she never in those 
days struck me as being other than a dark- 
haired, dark-eyed, gipsy-looking hoyden. 
She was not more than twelve years of 
age, yet she could fish, she could shoot, she 
could rob an orchard (ours), she could ride 
our youngest colt bare-backed, she could 
walk across the race, which supplied our 
mill, over a plank turned up on edge, she 
could climb trees, she could play marbles, 
she could eat more apples than all my 
brothers put together, and she was, in short, 
to quote the opinion of an old Scotchman in 
my father's employ, " The biggest deevil 
ever ran." 

It was upon this, the eldest daughter of 
an impoverished race, I looked, after feast- 
ing my eyes upon the spotless little maiden 
with the golden hair. 

There were nine of us — nine of us to be 
fed and clothed — so it may readily be 

VOL. II. a 



My First Love. 



imagined that Joan's dress in no respect 
resembled that of Miss Surry. Joan wore 
an old silk skirt, which I well remembered 
as an ancient follower of our family. She 
had on, likewise, a black satin spencer, a 
sun-bonnet, made out of some cheap coloured 
print, and shoes fastened by a strap round 
the ankle. To say that Joan's personal 
appearance would have been improved by a 
thorough good wash, conveys but a small 
idea of her state. A gold-digger labouring 
in a perfectly fresh claim would have looked 
bright as silver by comparison with my 
sister. You could have tracked every mile 
of country she had been through by the 
different sorts of mud she wore upon her 
dress, like trophies. As usual, her hands 
were gloveless — also, as usual, her bonnet 
was a shapeless mass of calico — further, as 
usual, perfectly unconscious of, and careless 
concerning her own shortcomings, whilst 
fully alive to the perplexities of others, she 
asked, for the third time — 



Our First Meeting, 83 

" How can we dry it, Tom ? " 

^' "We had better hang it on a branch in 
the sun," I answered. 

" That will not be half quick enough," 
Joan declared. '' Can't we light a fire ? " 

^' By the time we had done that the bag 
would be dry," I replied — '' besides, I have 
no matches." 

'-' could soon run home and get a few," 
Joan suggested. 

'-'- Could you not take the bag at the same 
time ? " I suggested — ^' Peggy would dry it 
before the kitchen fire." 

" Well thought of, Tom," Joan cried, 
clapping her sun-burnt hands like a school- 
boy. ^^ Give me the bag, and you stay with 
Eosie." 

But at this point Eosie interfered — Joan 
must not go — the bag could be hung up 
and dried in the sun — she was afraid to let 
it out of her sight again — '-'- If mamma knew, 
she would be so angry — so angry," and the 
poor little face began to work, and the lips 



84 My First Love, 

to quiver, and the blue eyes to fill, and she 
clung to Joan as if there were safety and 
protection in the presence of her undesirable- 
looking playfellow. 

" Shall I take it home ? " I asked. 

Considering I was but a lad, though a tall 
one, and that Eose Surry was only a little 
child, the reader will, I am sure, consider 
tlie offer to carry a dripping bag magnani- 
mous. But even this my new acquaintance 
declined — rather, she took my hand, shyly, 
it is true, but still confidingly, and asked 
me also to remain. 

Through the years, my darling, I am 
glad to think I did. It seems like yester- 
day that I was hanging the bag to the 
branch of an alder tree, and spreading the 
handkerchief it contained on the grass by 
the river side, with a stone at each corner, 
to prevent the light summer wind carrying 
it away. As I cross the stream, in order 
to reach the alder, I see the trout darting 
ujider the overhanging bank, where brambles. 



Our First Meeting. 



and grass, and weeds, dipped into the water. 
There is a quiet stillness and silence all 
around; the cattle are lying in a newly- 
mown meadow, chewing the cud; in the 
further fields the haymakers are resting 
from their labour, and lying with their 
straw hats over their faces, or drinking beer 
under the shade of the hedgerows. 

For ourselves, we find a cool place near 
the bridge, and sit down on the bank, with 
our feet resting on the gravel below. Joan 
has the bulk of the conversation to herself, 
and talks of many things, with the air of a 
professional — more especially, she enlarges 
upon the merits of some tame rabbits who 
have the misfortune to call her mistress, 
and descants on the exquisite beauty of a 
pair of bantams in a manner which makes 
Miss Surry open her eyes with eagerness 
and delight. 

Further, Joan speaks at length about the 
perfections of a swing, out of which she has, 
to my certain knowledge, nearly broken her 



86 My First Love, 

neck on no less than four occasions since my 
return home, and finally she produces a 
handful of cherries, that I well know could 
only have been procured at the risk of life 
and limb, and, dividing them into three 
portions, presents Eose with the ^^one over," 
and tells her not to let them touch her white 
dress. 

After this we sit in silence for a time, 
solemnly devouring the spoil. I think 
about how soon my holidays will be ended, 
and fall into a reverie concerning some 
words my father let drop that very morning. 
Eose's mind, I fancy, is wandering off to 
her bag; and as for Joan, her brain is 
plotting how she can safely procure a fresh 
supply of cherries, while she chucks the 
stones into the stream, and tries vainly to 
hit a bird perched amongst the ivy, who 
regards her missiles and her endeavours with 
the coolest indifference. 

Oh ! happy noontide ! Oh ! happy past I 
Oh ! river rippling idly by — how is it ye 



Our First Meeting. 87 

may never, for ever more, bear to me any 
treasures save those of memory ? Oh ! 
banks, woods, and hedgerows, gay with 
flower and blossom for the children, who 
with shouts and laughter, pluck your roses 
and gather your May, I could weep to think 
that never a spring nor summer may come 
upon the earth that shall bring to me aught 
save the withered garlands of a long ago 
past — faded leaves of the blue forget-me- 
not, that have been pressed in the innermost 
recesses of my heart, till my life has received 
their colour and theii' form, and can take no 
other imprint. 

Amongst the stones the water trickled 
slowly on its way — ^in the distant fields the 
haymakers arose and resumed their toil and 
their labour until the evening — bright butter- 
flies darted across the river, and great bees 
broke with their hum the silence of that 
summer's day — and Joan, having finished her 
cherries, picked her way across the stream, and 
reported that the bag was ^^ dry as a bone." 



88 My First Love, 

'^ I can't get it down, Tom," she shouted ; 
^^ come — I am not tall enough to reach the 
branch — I can only just touch the bag." 

Thus exhorted, I rose, and, as I did so, 
turned. 

'' Who is this lady, Eose ? " I asked. 

Immediately Eose jumped up all in a 
tremble. 

^^ It's mamma — oh ! it's mamma," the 
poor child said, with such an unconscious 
dread in her tone, that my heart ached for 
her ; but she did not begin to cry ; she 
turned a little pale, yet stood her ground 
more bravely than from what I had seen of 
her I should have expected. 

'''• Eose, what are you doing there ? " asked 
the lady, when she was within about half-a- 
dozen yards of us. 

But Eose neither answered nor moved a 
step ; and still the lady came on. I can see 
her now — a fine, handsome, magnificently- 
formed woman, dressed in a light-grey silk 
dress, with a black velvet scarf round h er shoul- 



Our First Meeting. 



ders, and a straw bonnet, with wild roses out- 
side, and lace and roses at each side of her face. 

Looking at the scrap of net, and the 
beech leaf, and the tiny bow of ribbon, 
which constitutes the typical " bonnet of the 
period," wherein my wife at this moment 
makes her appearance, in order to request 
from me ten pounds, it really seems like 
romance, to think that '-'- such things were," 
but handsome women looked well, and will 
look well in the head gear of all times, and to 
me, then unaccustomed to such wild luxury 
in attire, the approaching vision seemed 
something very beautiful and very terrible. 
Like Eose, I stood my ground, but I doubt 
whether Eose felt more afraid than I when 
the lady's glance fell upon me. 

^^ How often, Eose, am I to tell you that 
I will not allow you to wander off in this 
way ? Now never let me have to speak to 
you again about it." 

'-'- But nurse was busy, mamma, and I was 
so tired." 



90 My First Love. 

'^Then you will have to learn not to be 
tired," was the quick retort. ^' What would 
your papa say if lie knew I had found you 
here, sitting by the river with all sorts of 
people. You are, perhaps, not aware, sir," 
she added, turning to me, and utterring the 
'* sir " with cutting sarcasm, ^^ that you are 
at present on Sir Humphrey Surry's grounds, 
and trespassing." 

" Oh ! mamma ! " Eose interrupted before 
I could frame a reply, " I dropped my bag — 
your bag I mean — into the river, and it 
floated away — away — and he brought it back 
for me and got so wet. He was crossing 
the bridge when I was swinging it about, 
and it flew out of my hand I do not know 
how." 

With the most perfect patience Lady 
Surry listened to this explanation, and at its 
close she turned to me and said — 

^' It appears then I have to thank you, and 
apologize for my remark; but, as you are 
young, I venture to tell you that a service 



Our First Meeting. 91 

rendered, always seems the more valuable 
when it is not encroached upon after- 
wards.'' 

I could not answer a word. I felt choking 
with rage and vexation, so without uttering 
a reply of any kind, I crossed the stream 
and unfastened the reticule, and having 
placed the handkerchief which Joan brought 
me within it, returned to the spot where 
Lady Surry stood watching my move- 
ments. 

^' Thank you," she said as she took the 
bag, and I know her tone would have been 
more civil to any one of the haymakers than 
it was to me. '^ And this young lady," if I 
could only convey the slightest idea of Lady 
Surry's look as she spoke those two words, 
the reader would better understand my 
feelings, ^' and this young lady, did she aid 
in the recovery of my reticule also ? " 

''No," Joan answered defiantly, ''I was 
over there," indicating the field on the- 
opposite side of the river, " and I saw 



92 My First Love, 

her." pointing to Kose, '^ and I came 



across." 



*^ Perhaps you will have the kindness 
never to come across again," suggested Lady- 
Surrey. 

^^ You may be very sure I never will," 
Joan retorted with flashing eyes, and although 
I thought her speech rude, I must say I 
admired her courage. 

^^ Good-bye," she went on, and she put 
out her brown hand towards Eose just as a 
man might have done. 

It is wonderful what timid creatures will 
do on occasions. Though Lady Surry was 
standing there stem and terrible, Eose 
buried her little face in Joan's battered sun- 
bonnet and kissed Joan's mouth, which was 
stained with cherry juice. 

Seeing this. Lady Surry took her daugh- 
ter's arm and bade her sharply, ^* Come 
away," but Eose was not to be frightened 
out of her politeness. 

^^ Good-bye, sir, and thank you," she 



Our First Meeting. 93 

said, giving me her disengaged hand, the 
left. 

Next instant the little fingers were jerked 
out of my clasp, and with a haughty incli- 
nation Lady Surry swept off, dragging her 
daughter after her. 

We watched them as they went, and could 
see that she was scolding Eose, and occasion- 
ally giving the arm she held that impatient 
shake which always indicates anger and 
temper ; but we could also see Eose once 
half turn back towards us, and wave her left 
hand. 

Then they disappeared into the planta- 
tion, and Joan, drawing a long breath, 
said — 

" Isn't she a devil, Tom ? '^ 

" My dear Joan," I exclaimed, shocked^ 
^* where have you learned any expression 
like that ? " 

*' I heard papa say it," she answered quite 
calmly. ^^ He said Lady Surry was a devil 
— there now. Master Tom." 



"94 ^y First Love. 

I had no reason to doubt the correctness 
of Joan's assertion. My father was often 
given to the use of language not strictly- 
clerical — as he himself remarked, he some- 
times spoke in French — and I was therefore 
obliged to content myself with saying to 
Joan, that expressions which it was quite 
right for my father to employ were not 
suitable for her. 

After that we crossed the stream, and went 
over the fields home together. 



95 



CHAPTER II. 



eose's pahents. 



When Sir Geoffry Surry lay a-dying, the 
only temporal question wliicli troubled liim 
was that without his consent and against his 
will, a fool who had married a rogue should 
succeed to the title. 

Let a man be never so strict a conservative 
— and Sir Geoffry was conservative to the 
back bone — there is still enough of the 
original Adam left in him to induce radical 
tendencies on occasion. When an eldest son 
appears to be posting off to Pluto, or the 
next heir deals too freely in post obits, ori- 
ginal sin crops up in the breast of even our 



g6 My First Love. 



fine old English gentleman, and he wishes, 
spite of the laws of primogeniture and 
entail, that he could cut off the offender with 
a shilling, and reward, it may be, some 
prudent sneak with the title, and broad 
lands, and benefits thereto appertaining, and 
rents therefrom accruing. 

l^ow Sir Geoffry was a conservative, but 
he was also human; therefore, when he found 
that he had no direct heirs, and that Hum- 
phrey Surry must nolens volens succeed to the 
baronetage, he cursed his day — made his will 
— and in due time — which to Humphrey 
seemed a long time — died. 

After the funeral Sir Geoffry's will was 
read, and then the new baronet discovered 
that nothing his uncle could keep from him 
was left for his need. Old Court and say a 
paltry fifteen hundred a year went with the 
title, but Grayborough Castle and all the 
broad acres surrounding it, together with 
about six or seven thousand per annum, 
were bequeathed to my dearly beloved 



Rosens Parents. 97 



brother Gilbert, '' who mil, I trust, in God's 
good time succeed to the title." 

To Sir Humphrey this proved a blow, but 
to Matilda whom he had married, it was 
worse than a blow. In the visions of ni2:ht 
she had beheld the towers of Grayborough 
— the deer on the lawn had been very 
pleasant possessions to her. It never once 
entered into her mind that Sir Geoffry, 
though he hated her, could visit that hatred 
on his next of kin — for Humphrey, a gentle- 
man every inch, had refrained from informing 
her of the result of his only visit to his 
childless uncle. 

" You are the first of our race," said the 
baronet, '^ who have brought a low-born 
woman amongst our mothers, wives, and 
daughters. As you have made your bed so 
you must lie on it. If love be worth any- 
thing, it will compensate you for the loss of 
family ties." 

And then Humphrey Surry turned away, 
sick at heart, because he knew that it was 

VOL. II. H 



98 My First Love, 

not for love of Mm, but for love of his be- 
longings, for love of what be might even- 
tually give her, that Matilda Berners had 
married him. 

But as I have before said, he was a gentle- 
man, and he kept his own coimsel. He had 
made a mistake, as many a better man has 
done since, and there was no use in crying 
over spilt milk. Lady Surry was Lady 
Surry, and not all the wills in Christendom 
could undo that fact : so Sir Humphrey 
accepted his position, as well as the other fact 
that he was never likely to have any heir to 
come after him. 

These things do happen so now and then 
amongst the upper ten thousand — possibly 
they happen just the same in the lower ten 
millions, but that property being an unknown 
quantity amongst the undistinguished many, 
no one cares to work out the difficult alge- 
braic problem. Humphrey Surry's wife 
bore him five sons running — five — no less, 
to the intense disgust of childless Sir Geoffry 



Rose's Parents. 99 

— for Gilbert had only one — a tall unde- 
veloped stripling, at the time of his kinsman's 
death. 

But the five died one after another, and 
then, after an interval, there was hope of an 
heir again. When the child came it was a 
daughter, and gossip said, Humphrey's wife 
turned her face to the wall and wept. The 
same year Sir Geoffry died. Six years after- 
wards. Sir Humphrey, having either paid 
or arranged his debts, came to Old Court 
with never an heir to inherit the title — but 
with Lady Surry, whom he had married once 
for love. 

It came about in this wise : Hunting one 
day near Grayborough, Humphrey was 
thrown and badly injured. Kird but not 
far-sighted friends carried him to the abode 
of J. S. Berners, M.K.C.S., who saw to his 
hurts, and who had a handsome daughter. 
From the day he was borne across her father's 
threshold the fair Matilda marked him for her 
own, the spoil of her bow and of her spear. 

h2 



lOO My First Love. 

She was engaged at the time — for such 
women do not lack lovers, more is the pitjr 
— to a certain Eobert Childutt, who farmed 
a couple of hundred freehold acres, and had 
altogether been looked upon by the Berners 
family as rather a desirable catch for Tilly. 
Eut Tilly was above any low considerations, 
and regarded the obligations of a promise 
no more, or indeed, rather less than she- 
regarded the necessity of curling her hair. 

She knew she was handsome, her glass 
told her that, even had Mr. Childutt in his 
folly failed to do so ; and there, in her 
father's first floor front bedroom lay a gentle- 
man, heir to a baronetage, lacking a wife. 
Should this thing be suffered in Israel ? 
Should she permit him to go away heart- 
whole ? Assuredly not ; and accordingly, 
as she, to quote Sir Geofiry, was a rogue 
and Humphrey a fool, they made a match of 
it, and had many children, amongst whom 
Eose was the only one who lived. 

To state that her mother disliked Eose, 



Rosens Pareyits. loi 

would be to convey too mild an idea of her 
feelings. She hated her. 

^^Hadl only known,'' Mrs. Surry was over- 
heard to say, ^'I would have managed accord- 
ingly, and had a boy." Eut at the time she 
never dreamed of a girl's advent, and Eose's 
<3oming was as unlocked for as unwelcome. 

I^ot to her father, however — he did not 
so much mind whether his boy or Gilbert's 
succeeded to the title. Long years of matri- 
mony had done their work, and Humphrey 
Surry was happily indifferent as to who or 
what came after him. 

He had played his game and failed — for him 
life was over. If only his wife would have left 
him and Eosy alone ! — well, every existence 
has its ^' if only," and Sir Humphrey did 
not care greatly. He was a fool as his 
uncle had broadly stated, and Providence is 
very good to fools. Out of the abysses of 
their own folly comfort comes to them — out 
of Sir Humphrey's abyss there came Eose. 

When his wife was dissatisfied, and 



I02 My First Love, 

creditors pressing, Sir Humphrey found a 
certain pleasure in the sight of his daugh- 
ter's face — in the clasp of her childish arms. 
It is a poor life that in which a man disap- 
pointed of the chief blessing life can offer — 
a woman's devotion — a woman's sympathy 
— turns to the affection of the children, who 
ought merely to serve as a tie binding hus- 
band and wife closer together. 

Forme — there will be hundreds, thousands 
of people, this Christmas time, ready to say 
I am a heathen for advancing the opinion 
— though my opinion is, God knows, the 
truth — whenever I see a man disappointed 
in his marital relations taking comfort out 
of his children, and seeking his companion- 
ship with them, I always think of a lonely 
woman I broke in upon one morning un- 
expectedly, and found nursing a cat, all the 
time that her eyes — Lord comfort her! — 
were fixed upon the fire — seeing, it might 
be, therein the ghost of a dream never 
realized, of a hope never fulfilled. 



Rose's Parents, 



03 



After all, there is nothing but a woman 
can fill a man's heart. 

I know that — I who, now surrounded by 
wife and children, sit beside my Christmas 
hearth with mine empty. 

My love — yes — you are my wife, and, 
according to your light, have done your duty, 
and were you to die to-morrow, I should be 
very, very sorry, and never marry again — 
but you have never filled the vacant corner, 
for all that — never cured the dull, aching 
pain, through the years which have come 
and gone. 

My dears, kiss me ! you are my children 
— but you are not hers. 

If you had, you might have been diflPerent, 
and I too. Don't marry in a hurry, and 
don't marry excepting for love. 

It is not bad Christmas advice this, 
friends. "When you are kissing under the 
mistletoe, young folks, remember what I 
have told you. When you see young Cory- 
don, Paterfamilias, decoying your Phillis 



I04 ^y First Love, 

under the Druidieal branch, be not over- 
swift to advance the claims of that highly- 
respectable other individual, whose suit you 
approve — but rather leave the young folks 
alone, and if Corydon have no grievous sin 
bearing witness against him^ and can show 
that he is able and willing to work for the 
support of his wife, in God's name let them 
marry. 

As the Pharisees in olden times were re- 
buked because they rejoiced as not being as 
that Publican, so I always doubt the woman 
who blesses the fate that represents to her 
shortsightedness the Maker of the universe, 
which interposed to prevent her mating 
with Frank, the ne'er do well — with Harry 
the black sheep. 

She is fat, and unsentimental, this typical 
matron whom I remember, full of romance, 
and with a waist I could have spanned ; she 
has daughters she will marry to the highest 
bidder, and sons she would taboo if they 
made love where there was no prospect of 



Rose's Parents, 105 

settlements. But oh ! friends, all holy, 
wholesome, unworldly love is now sour grapes 
to her — and it is but her feminine instincts 
which prompt her to make the best of the 
mistake, and to perpetuate the error. 

Evil, be thou my good ! Mammon be thou 
my God ! cry these women, who have gone 
from Dan to Beersheba, and found all bar- 
ren ; and the cry is echoed by those who 
seeing them outwardly prosperous, and appa- 
rently happy, behold the rind of the Dead 
Sea apples, and know nothing of the dust 
and the ashes, the decay and the rottenness, 
lurking within. After which not digression, 
but statement of opinion, I may return to 
my story, and tell it. 



io6 



GHAPTEE III. 

OUE ^rESITOE. 

The courteous and patient reader must not 
suppose that I learned all the facts contained 
in a previous chapter in a moment. On the 
contrary, I have concentrated into a few 
pages the information of years. What we 
knew best at my father's house in those days 
was that the residents at Old Court were, 
for their station, very poor — that Eose's 
nurse had likewise to officiate as Lady 
Surry's maid — that indoors they could afford 
in the way of male servants only a butler, 
whilst as regarded the stables, coachman 
and groom — the latter turned occasionally 



Our Visitor. 107 



into a footman — were the only retainers^ 
employed. 

Sir Humplirey had no other country 
seats and therefore, when he went shoot- 
ing, was compelled to do so at the 
instance of kindly friends. He sat in the 
house ; but when he went to town was 
obliged either to go without Lady Surry, 
or else to stay at the residence of a 
widowed sister, who was willing to put 
up with the inconvenience of having them^ 
for the sake of the Bart, and M.P. attached 
to his name. Lady Surry flattered the old 
lady's vanity. She did not snub the pug 
dogs in Devonshire Place as she was wont 
to do her only child Eose, whom she left at 
Old Court, in charge of an individual half 
housekeeper, half cook. Lady Surry was 
still young enough and personable enough, to 
flirt, and she did flirt, though unbeknown 
to Miss Surry — only, unhappily, nothing 
came of it. She failed to leave Sir Hum- 
phrey free, and Sir Humphrey still regarded 



io8 My First Love, 

her with consideration, if not with love, as 
^' my young wife," though Lady Surry was 
nine-and-thirty, if she were a day, having 
been nearly twenty-three when she made 
her matrimonial venture — and won. 

But all this time I am wandering from 
my tale. It was a lovely summer's evening 
when, just as we Avere about commencing tea, 
Joan entered our sitting-room leading by 
the hand Eose Surry. 

We were not wealthy people, as has been 
already intimated, so we lived plainly, dining 
all together at one o'clock, and assembling 
again round the tea-table at six — therefore 
we must have seemed quite a party to the 
child, who drew back a little, and would 
have retreated altogether had Joan not 
dragged her forward. 

^' It is Eose Surry," commenced my 
sister, ^^I brought her in to tea, mamma." 

" But, my dear, you know Lady Surry 
" our mother was beginning, when alook 



at the poor little tender face cut her sentence 



Otcr Visitor. 109 



short. '^ Will you sit beside me, love?" 
she went on, all her maternal instincts astir 
at sight of the child's clinging gentleness : 
^^ Joan, take off her bonnet." Which Joan 
did, like a matron of forty, finishing up the 
performance with a kiss, and the remark, 
'' There, my queen." 

I never beheld anything like Joan's love 
for that child. She waited upon her like a 
slave, and would have given Eose her own 
portion of jam, as well as that my mother 
heaped on the stranger's bread, only Eose 
said she could not eat it. 

And indeed the child ate very little, but 
after the first few minutes seemed, in her 
quiet way, to be supremely happy amongst 
us all. She took especially to my father, 
sitting on his knee and pulling his grey 
moustache, and laughing merrily when he 
told her she was a saucy little puss, and 
said she did not know her own name. 

^^ Eose, indeed — Lily, you mean," per- 
sisted my father. 



no My First Love. 



" Mamma calls me Eose, and papa Posie, 
and nurse Plague," she explained gravely. 

^^ And why Plague ? " asked my mother ; 
■and at this question the child lifted her 
large soft eyes and looked at my mother 
earnestly, but answered never a word. 

"Why Plague, darling?" repeated my 
mother, and she stooped down her head to 
hear the reply. 

Then Eose stretched up her little arms 
and clasped them round my mother's neck, 
while she whispered, " Because she never 
has time to take me out, and I go by my- 
self, and then when she finds me she says I 
am the plague of her life." 

" But don't you think you are naughty 
to go by yourself, and make nurse un- 
happy ? " asked my father. 

"No," she answered. "I have no one 

to play with, and nothing to do ; and then, 

if I can get to the river sometimes I see 

Joan." 

" Did you see Joan at the river this even- 



Our Visitor. 1 1 1 



ing?" my mother inquired — for she had 
heard the episode of Lady Surry's reticule, 
and was prepared to rebuke Joan if she 
found that young lady had been breaking 
rules, and trespassing on Sir Humphrey's 
property. 

^'Yes," Joan broke in at this juncture, 
*^ I was on one side of the bridge, and saw 
Eosie on the other, and called to her, and 
she came. Her mamma is in Wales, and she 
had been there all the afternoon by herself, 
so I brought her home. You won't catch 
me going into their place again," and Joan's 
voice was uplifted, and Joan's eyes sparkled, 
and my dear mother said — 

^' You must not speak in such a tone," 
and my father exclaimed ^^Hush, hush, 
hush ! " 

After that the conversation languished, 
and it was proposed we should all go into 
the garden, where Eose, holding my hand, 
partook of some gooseberries which Joan 
gathered, and subsequently recounled for 



112 My First Love. 

my benefit a fairy tale, considering evidently 
that she was bound in courtesy to amuse and 
instruct me. 

"We stood in a fairy land then, sweetest,, 
though neither of us knew it — in the bright, 
innocent, happy, fairy land of youth and 
inexperience. 

^^ Where did that all happen, Eose?" I 
asked when she had done. 

^^ I do not know," she answered, ^' but 
ever so far away from here." 

My love, there came a day when I re- 
minded you of that fairy-tale, and asked 
you the same question again, and you re- 
plied, darling — "It all happened in this 
garden, Tom, and the prince and princess 
are you and me." 

" We did not know anything about love 
in those days, Eose," I whispered. 

"Ah! Tom, we were children, then," 
you said, and, God help us, we were little 
better than children in our happiness when 
you uttered that profound remark — nothing 



OiLT Visitor, 



113 



more, love — wandering along the grass 
paths, which were damp, I remember, and 
covered (it was in the early spring time) 
with blossoms from the apple-trees. 

It was moonlight, and we thought such a 
moon had never sailed through the sky be- 
fore. For my own part, I have not seen 
such a night since, and believe it is a differ- 
ent sky and a different moon from that we 
beheld standing in my father's garden I look 
up at as I pace back from my chambers to 
the domestic hearth where all my earthly 
happiness is now centred. 

Supposing, however, a man have once 
lived in fairy land, he cannot, even though 
he be the happy husband of an estimable 
wife, and the proud father of handsome 
children, always refrain from dreaming 
dreams and seeing visions. In the midst of 
the prosaic city, before his mental sight 
there flits ever and anon the ^^ rath " where 
the ^'little people" dwelt, the green ring 
where they danced in the summer nights. 

VOL. n. I 



114 ^y First Love, 

EecoUection is always summer to some, 
friends. To those who have spent a happy 
youth the roses of the past bloom peren- 
nially — there is always a perfame of migno- 
nette and pinks, always broad patches of 
sunshine lying athwart the landscape, always 
a glitter on the sea, leaves on the trees, the 
songs of birds in the air, fruits clustering 
in the orchard. 

The past comes back so to' me, God be 
thanked. Though the autumnal breezes 
blew, and the frosts and sorrows of winter 
came, still my life held bloom and flower 
once, the memory of which no future can 
destroy. And even while my eyes fill while 
writing and thinking of the long ago, it is 
not with bitter tears, but with drops wrung 
from the knowledge that although my life 
might have been less miserable had I never 
loved and lost, it would have proved less 
happy too. 

After a time my mother came out to 
spoil Eose's enjoyment. 



Our Visitor, 115 



" They will be anxious about you at Old 
Court, pet," she said, '^ and I must now 
send you home. Tom, you had better take 
her." 

" Let me go too, mamma," Joan cried, 
but my dear mother negatived that proposal, 
to my intense delight — for if I were to run 
the gauntlet of entering Old Court, and 
proffering an explanation, I did not want to 
do so in Joan's company. 

Yery soon Miss Eose, wrapped up in a 
warm scarf, was trudging with me down the 
lane home. Although our places almost ad- 
joined, the entrance lodges of Old Court 
were a good mile from our cottage, and I 
had not the slightest intention orf taking 
my charge home by any back gate. She 
urged me to do so, indeed, adding as an in- 
ducement the fact that '^ mamma was not at 
home," which speech gave me but a poor 
idea of Eosie's notions on the score of mo- 
rality ; whereupon I considered it my duty 
to give her a lectui-e concerning the sinful- 

I 2 



1 1 6 My First Love, 

ness of doing behind a person's back what 
she would not do before her face — in the- 
middle whereof Eose began to whimper, and 
I to fear I had produced too strong an im- 
pression. 

^^Whatisit, dear?" I asked, fori had 
not meant to be cross with her, only from 
the height of my teens to preach to her in- 
experience. 

^' I am tired," she said in reply, " so 
tired ! Is it very far home now ? " 
*' Shall I carry you ? '' I proposed. 
'-'- Yes, please," and the little arms were 
upstretched, and I took the light burden in 
mine, and so carried her all the remainder 
of the way to her father's house. She did 
not go . to sleep ; she just lay there quietly, 
looking up at the sky, with her bonnet 
fallen back, and her soft golden hair stirred 
by the eyening breeze. 

" Do I tire you ? " she asked once ; "do 
your arms ache ? " 

"With carrying you!'' I said; "why 



Our Visitor. 117 



you are light as as a feather, I could carry 
you from here to London." 

" I wish you would, then," she answered, 
'' I want to see the King and Queen sitting 
with crowns on their heads and fur on their 
-shoulders — musn't they be grand ! " 

" I am going to London after a time," I 
said a little proudly, because in those days 
it was something to visit the metropolis. 
Eut immediately I had spoken my heart 
sank, for that very day it had come to me 
that I ought not to go ; and I was even then 
making up my mind to do what my father 
wished, at any personal cost, at any personal 
sacrifice. 

But what he had asked was just my fa- 
ture, just that and nothing more. Perhaps it 
would have been better had he taken it then 
altogether, and done therewith what he 
listed. 

" Is Joan going too ? " Eose asked ; where- 
upon I, being rather in a pedantic frame of 
jnind, undertook to prove to her that it was 



Ii8 My First Love. 

only men who went from home, and not 
little girls J or indeed girls at all (were I 
talking to Eose now on this point, I wonder 
what I should have to tell her), and I en- 
larged upon this theme, until probably Eose 
wearying of it, told me I was not a man, but 
a boy. 

After that, thinking her a trifle rude, and 
considering that the greater the truth the 
greater was the libel, I remained silent, till 
she brought me back to a better state of 
mind, by saying — 

'-^ You are not cross, Tom, are you ? " 

^^ Cross, Eosie ! no," I answered; and 
then she nestled her soft face up against 
mine, and the shade of Sir Humphrey's trees- 
closed over us as I carried her up the avenue 
home. 

We had not been long in making ac- 
quaintance. Already I was Tom to the 
child ; already she was as much a part of 
my life as Joan, or Cecil, or Harry, or Ethel, 
or any of the other progeny residing in our 



Our Visito7\ 1 1 9 



unpretentious house. Whatever I might 
do in the future, wherever I might go, I 
could never forget blue eyes and golden hair, 
who lay in my arms with hands clasped 
round my neck, whispering, ^^I love you, 
Tom." Oh ! my darling. 

I had never been to Old Court before, and 
the shadow which seemed to have flitted 
thither with me deepened in intensity as we 
drew near Eosie's home. What I was to 
say, how explain my advent, I could not 
imagine, and we had already reached the 
front door before any suitable form of ad- 
dress presented itself. 

Then, while I was waiting for some one 
to come in answer to my knock, I framed 
this sentence — 

" Miss Surry came home with my sister to 
tea, and thinking the family might be un- 
easy, I have brought her back." 

Eut the ^' best laid plans 0' mice and 
men " fall through sometimes, and my sen- 
tence fell through, by reason of Eose ex- 



I20 My First Love, 

claiming the moment a solemn elderly 
butler opened the door — 

''It is only me, Hoskins," (the darling's 
acquaintance with Lindley Murray was at 
that time imperfect). '^ I have been up 
with Mr. Luttr ell's papa and mamma, and I 
do not want any tea, thank you — I have had 
my tea. Put me down on the table, please, 
Tom '' — ^this last clause to me. 

I crossed the dark old-fashioned hall, and 
set my maiden on a substantial oak table, 
where she curled up her legs, and at once 
assumed airs of command that I could not 
have believed she had courage to indulge in. 

'' Where's nurse, Hoskins ? " asked 
missy, nursing her pretty boots. 

" Crying about you, miss," answered the 
butler; ''she has sent Carnett to look for 
you, thinking you were lost." 

" Lost ! " repeated the autocrat con- 
temptuously, " why how could I be lost, 
Hoskins ? I must always be somewhere." 

'^Which you must, miss," agreed Hoskins. 



Our Visitor, 121 



^^ I am going now,'' I broke in at this 
juncture ; " will you bid me good night ? " 
I said this very humbly, for the house and 
the man servant, who, I fancied, looked as 
if he knew something greatly to my disadvan- 
tage, had proved too much for my equanimity. 
There was a gulf placed between us and 
these people who owned Eose, and no one 
save Joan — Joan, in her mad disregard of 
consequences, — would have tried to cross 
it. 

^' Goodnight, Tom,'' answered Eose, hold- 
ing up her mouth to be kissed, but at that 
moment a side-door flew open, and a woman 
appeared, who embraced Eose, calling her 
^' duck, and pet, and lamb, and treasure," 
and asking " where she had dropped from,'' 
adding, ^^poor nursey has been crying her 
eyes out." 

^' Why don't you say I am the plague of 
your life ? " asked Eosie, solemnly. 

'-'- Because, my sweet lamb, I thought you 
were really lost this time. I have been out 



122 My First Love, 

the last two hours looking for you, and noTV 
Carnett is gone — " 

" To walk with Phoebe," finished Eose^ 
with that demure archness which belongs to 
the sex, when speaking about love affairs, 
long before they have attained to the know^ 
ledge of good and evil. 

Once again I essayed to get away, but 
Eosie held me fast, while she introduced me 
to her nurse with the words, ^'' He brought 
me home." 

"And I am sure, sir, it was very kind of 
you indeed, and we are all obliged, and 
where, please, did you find Miss Eose ?" 

" Find !" repeated Miss Eose; " I never 
went to any place to be found— Joan took 
me to her house for tea — that was all." 

" My sister is very fond of Miss Surry, '^ 
I explained, "but she ought not to have 
tempted her away from home." 

" I wish my lady would let Miss Eose 
have anybody to play with," the nurse 
answered; "for the child is moped up and 



Our Visitor, 123 



lonely here all day by herself" — and from 
this speech I knew that Eosie's guardian, 
in her mother's absence, would not even tjy 
to prevent the pair meeting. And after all, 
what did it matter whether they did or not, 
so long as it was Eosie, who, like a stray 
pheasant, wandered into my father's grounds 
from Sir Humphrey's plantations ? 

'^ You would like to return by the river 
walk, should you not, sir?" said Hoskins, 
as I passed through the hall-door. ^^ I will 
get you the key of the gate leading on to 
the bridge, and you can send it back any 
time. That way saves full three quarters of 
a mile." 

But I declined this offer, telling him I 
should like the walk, and so I passed down 
under the arching trees that made the ave- 
nue dark and lonesome. 

It was not too dark and lonesome, how- 
ever, for Miss Phoebe and Mr. Camett, 
whom I met strolling lo^T.ngly along to- 
gether — she with her head almost touching 



124 -^y First Love, 

his shoulder, he with his arm passed round 
her waist. 

I should not have thought it necessary to 
disturb their Ute-d-tete had Carnett himself 
not called out to know who I was, and what 
I was doing there at that time of night. 

In reply, I informed him I was returning 
from the Court, having just taken Miss 
Surry back there. 

^^ It wiU be a relief to you to know she is 
safe, and that you need not trouble yourself 
to look for her any longer," I added, where- 
upon Phoebe giggled, and Mr. Carnett mut- 
tered something about having heard at the 
Lodge that a gentleman had brought her home. 

"When I got near our own house, my 
father met me, smoking, as was his wont, a 
short pipe, cigars being a luxury our means 
did not permit. 

^'Well, my boy," he began, after we had 
walked a few steps together, '' will you con- 
sider what I said to you this morning — 
carefully Tom, remember ?" 



Our Visitor, 125 



^' I have considered, father," I answered, 
" and I have decided to stay at home and 
try and do my best." 

He took a whiff or two more before he 
said, laying his hand on my shoulder, 

"- God bless you, Tom." 



126 



CHAPTER IV. 

OUK OWN HOME. 

Looking back over the past, with, eyes that 
are now sharpened by knowledge of the 
world, I do not wonder at Lady Surry con- 
sidering us very common people, who had no 
right to come between the wind and her 
nobility. 

We were not rich, and although we were 
of respectable family, there had never, so 
far as I know, been any member composing 
it very great or very grand. Of course 
there had been a time in our annals, as there 
is usually a time in the annals of those who 
can talk confidently about a great-grand- 



Our Own Home, 127 

father, when the Luttrells "were well-to-do 
— when they owned a fair amount of landed 
property, associated with county gentry, 
and rode to the meet of the Darfordshii-e 
hounds, on their own hacks, and cried 
'^ Tally Ho !" from the backs of their own 
hunters. 

They had a pretty, old-fashioned mansion, 
away in Darfordshire. I have seen it within 
the last ten years — surrounded by hideous 
gardens, laid out principally in the Dutch 
style — where the flower-beds were bordered 
by box, and the old yew trees artistically 
trimmed into the similitude of peacocks, 
lions, grifiB.ns, and other animals. 

The property is now in the possession of 
a very worthy knight, who was at one time 
Lord Mayor of London, and who made all 
his money in trade. He has thrown out 
wings, and added many architectui-al abomi- 
nations, but he had the sense to leave the 
old house overgrown with ivy intact, and 
he still nourishes the yew trees, and has 



128 My First Love, 

them trimmed and cut as above described — 
under the impression, perhaps, that people 
may think his ancestors planted them. 

Not that it matters much who planted 
them now, or if they had never been planted, 
for that matter, but they please Sir William, 
and constituted one great reason why he 
purchased the place. His yearly income is 
larger than the entire principal of the Lut- 
trells in their palmiest days, so I have good 
reason for saying that even in the heyday 
of their prosperity my people were never 
anything very particular. 

They belonged to the rank-and-file of the 
upper middle-class. With either wealth or 
brains, they might have become colonels, 
generals, commander-in-chiefs in that social 
army — but they had neither. They had not 
even sense enough to go into trade, which 
was, perhaps, so far fortunate, since, with 
their lack of cleverness, commerce would 
infallibly have hurried them even quicker 
down the hill than they posted of their own 
accord. 



Our Own Home, 129 

I know a certain Luttrell now, one of the 
lineal descendants of the Darfordshire family 
— not a mere offshoot of that race, like 
myself — who is something in a Government 
office, and who barely earns enough to keep 
himself, and a delicate wife, and three sickly- 
looking children, off the parish. 

This man has no money beyond his salary, 
and never had any — neither had his father 
before him, neither had his wife, nor his 
wife's father. His ancestors were no 
greater folk than I have described them — 
he has no land — he has no particular posi- 
tion — and he grows nothing but an imbecile 
moustache, which looks a degree more pur- 
poseless than himself. Yet he never fails to 
tell me, on those not rare occasions, when 
he wants the loan of a five-pound note, that 
no gentleman should go into business. 

''It is only fit for snobs and cads,'' he 
declares ; and were he not such a poor 
creature, I should be unable to refrain from 

VOL. II. K 



130 My First Love, 

telling him, ^^ It is certainly not fit ibr 
fools." 

For me, I am not in trade ; I have never 
been, but for a very short period of my life. 
Yet I hold trade to be as necessary to the 
very existence of a true aristocracy, as food 
to that of a man. For a pauper aristocracy 
is in its very natui'e an anachronism, and T 
should like to know how, except in trade, 
or by trade, sufficient money is now-a-days 
to be obtained to keep blue blood circulating 
through the social system. Men cannot go* 
freebooting, or marauding, or looting now, 
excepting in business, and it is quite a 
question, I think, whether even a modern 
^^ promoter '' is not quite as respectable and 
honest a member of society as a ^^Eeiver'' 
used to be in the good old days when 
'^ might was right.'' 

All of which merely brings me to the 
point I wanted to reach long ago, namely, 
that had the Luttrells been clever enough 
to turn their attention to commerce, and 



Our Own Home. 131 

amass wealth — without, at the same time, 
losing all command over their H's — even 
Lady Surry might have been disposed to 
make herself agreeable. 

Eut we were poor, and, however novelists 
and poets may idealize poverty, there is 
nothing so awfully prosaic as a small income 
and nine fine children. 

People were, indeed, kind enough to hint 
we were fine children, but that only made 
the matter worse, for our good health in- 
duced large appetites, while the animal 
spirits of the younger fiy were for ever 
leading them into places where they tore 
their clothes, and whence they returned 
home sorry, ragged sights to behold. 

In his early days my father had been an 
officer. It was quite like the Luttrells, 
to put their sons in positions where they 
could not possibly live on the pay allotted 
to them. The Luttrells, and such as they, 
replenish the earth with curates, ensigns, 
briefless barristers — who write for the press 

k2 



132 My First Love, 

— civil servants, secretaries, and so forth^ 
and in conformity with the plan of hi& 
family, and their tribe, my father entered 
the army. 

After he married Bertha Harrison, who^ 
of course, had not a sixpence, he sold ont^ 
paid his debts, and looked about for employ- 
ment in London, which he failed to get. 
Time went by — children came, but money 
went ; and had it not been for the kindness 
of a widowed aunt, who lived in great splen- 
dour in Queen Anne Street, with a maid, a 
cook, a footman, a housemaid, a butler, a 
cat, a parrot, a King Charles and an Italian 
greyhound, there can be no question but 
that a climax would have arrived sooner 
than actually proved the case. 

But though deferred, the climax came, 
and, at the earnest invitation of George, by 
the grace of God, my father found himself 
seated one evening at Mr. Sloman's hospi- 
table board, inditing an epistle first to his 
aunt, and secondly to a certain Colonel 



Our Own Home. 133 

Montgomery, who had always been his 
great chum, and who, it was whispered, 
had run an almost neck-and-neck race with 
him in Bertha Harrison's good graces. 

Be this as it may, both Colonel and aunt 
came to the rescue, and somehow affairs 
were arranged. After that, however, came 
the important question as to how he was to 
live, and Colonel Montgomery offered him 
the lease of a farm which had just fallen in, 
near Crommingford, without any fine, which 
offer being gratefully accepted, Mrs. Graham 
agreed to lend him one thousand pounds to 
stock it, and thus enabled to begin the 
world afresh, my father turned his back on 
London. 

He would have done well, I think, at 
Crommingford, but for two, or, indeed three, 
drawbacks; the first was, that my mother 
knew nothing whatever of the duties of her 
new position, and never could learn them, 
wherefore the making of the butter, the 
manufacturing of the cheese, the rearing of 



134 My First Love, 

the calves, the care of the poultry, was left 
entirely to servants. 

There was no mistress's eye about our 
establishment to put meat on the horse's 
ribs — and indeed how could there be ? said 
my poor father once to me, almost apolo- 
getically, when she was constantly bringing 
children into the world ? 

Which was all very well and very nice of 
him to recollect; but I know now quite 
well that if my mother had never had a 
child, she would have proved just as useless 
a wife for a struggling farmer as was the 
case. 

The second drawback to my father's 
prosperity — I will not say happiness, because 
it would grieve me to think he had been 
otherwise than happy — were the number of 
arrows contained in his matrimonial quiver : 
think of it — there were nine of us, and I but 
sixteen. 

Three, two older and one younger than my- 
self, had died ; but there were nine living — 



Our Own Home. 135 

nine, and Joan the eldest girL It was a bless- 
ing we lived in the country, and were, so to 
speak, our own tradespeople, for had we 
resided in a town, and been compelled to 
buy bread, and milk, and beef, and beer, it 
would have taken a fortune to support us. 
As it was, we fattened, and throve, and there 
was neither sickness within our house, nor 
scarcity within our gates. 

But there was a trouble, which arose in 
this way, and caused my father many and 
many a sleepless night and wretched day. 

On the farm at Crommingford there were 
two small flour mills, one that had happily 
been burnt permitted to fall into ruin, and 
another that, unfortunately, was in a perfect 
state of repair. 

At the time he took possession of the 
farm, the latter mill was rented by a man 
of the name of Telfer, who managed in a 
small way to make a living out of it. When 
he died, my father took the mill into his 
own hands, and worked it not unprofitably. 



136 My First Love, 

In an evil hour, however, some one sug- 
gested to him, or the idea suggested itself, 
that two mills might be as easily worked as 
one, and that it was a thousand pities for 
the water-wheel on the lower pond to be 
standing still. He had got a little money 
before him by this tim^, and so commenced 
building. 

Now everybody knows what commencing 
building means, namely \h& commencement 
of trouble; and so my father found it. An 
acquaintance had assured him that the place 
might be put into working order again for 
an old song; but the song turned out 
ultimately a most mournful ditty. Further, 
when the mill was rebuilt, my father dis- 
covered that the same rule holds good with 
regard to business as with regard to hens. 
Say that six hens lay on an average two 
eggs a week each, any inexperienced person 
might assume that thirty-six would produce 
six dozen — but practically this is found to 
be a fallacy ; and in like manner the profits 



Our Own Ho7ne, 137 

obtained by a man in a large way of business 
bear no proportion whatever to the amount 
made by one trading in a smaller and more 
modest manner. 

Moreover the rebuilding and fitting up 
€Ost him just double what he had anticipated, 
and as if to crown his misfortunes within a 
month of the time when he had, as he 
thought, made a most desirable arrangement, 
which would give him time to pay the 
people to whom he owed money, down came 
a letter from Mrs. Graham's solicitors, de- 
manding the return of the thousand pounds 
she had lent him ten years previously. 

*^ That is because we would not let her 
have Joan," said my mother tearfully, for 
Mrs. Graham had desired my charming sister 
as an addition to her olio of oddities. 

'^ I scarcely think so," answered my 
father, and he wrote to the solicitors, ex- 
plaining that the interest having been regu- 
larly paid, he felt much surprised at their 
request. He went on say, that it would put 



138 My First Love. 

him to grevious inconvenience having to 
raise so large a sum of money within the 
time specified, six months ; that he was 
anxious to do what he could in the matter, 
but trusted, as he was already heavily bur- 
dened, that they would agree to take the 
amount in four yearly instalments of two 
hundred and fifty pounds each, interest to 
be paid at the same rate as before, five per 
cent. 

To this in due course he received a most 
unsatisfactory reply. Mrs. Graham, having 
been given to understand that he had been 
spending large sums of money on property 
which he merely held on lease, did not feel 
inclined to leave her thousand pounds, for 
which she held no sufficient security, in his 
hands any longer. She had instructed her 
solicitors further to remark, that as my 
parents had not evinced any willingness to 
meet her wishes in a matter on which she 
had set her heart, she should certainly not 
consider their desires now. All of which. 



Our Own Home. 139 

being translated, meant that if they still 
liked to send up Joan to Queen Anne Street, 
labelled ''glass, with care," she would re- 
consider her decision, and probably never 
ask for the thousand pounds again. 

It was a temptation, certainly, but my 
parents did not yield. They had old- 
fashioned notions, and considered it would 
be very like selling or abandoning Joan to 
give her to Mrs. Graham. God had in- 
trusted her to them, and if so long as they 
lived they neglected that trust, how should 
they answer to Him for it in the day when 
He made up his jewels. Further, duty apart, 
they could not send her from them. They 
loved Joan, and all their children, and, as 
my mother said to me once when speaking 
on this matter — 

'' You must remember, Tom, we had lost 
three, so we understood what it was — bat I 
knew those three were safe, and I did not 
know whether Joan would be safe; that 
made all the difference." 



140 My First Love, 

I am only recounting facts as they hap- 
pened, and do not propose to pass judgment 
on them. Possibly my parents were wrong. 
No doubt it would have been a fine thing 
for them to have had one child fed, clothed, 
•and educated free of expense, and with the 
prospect of a good dot in addition ; but still, 
I think if any person, whether old maid or 
mdow, whether "King of France, or, far 
better. Pope of Eome," were to come and 
ask me for one of my blessings, I should 
feel inclined to reply uncivilly. 

!N'obody, however, ever did want one of 
my children, and I shrewdly suspect, no one 
ever wanted their mother but myself — and 
I did not, though I married her. Some 
young men, I notice, are now beginning to 
loom about our house, and I suppose some 
day the " old story " will be told me by a 
new narrator. When my girls are " wanted" 
in that way I shall probably not say nay, and 
I do not think I shall be difficult to satisfy 
pecuniarily. Nevertheless, I do not envy 



Our Oivn Home, 141 



the future of the happy man who unites 
with any one of the blessings of my hearth 
and home, unless he send her first to a school 
for cookery ; and second, to one of those ladies 
who advertise patterns for eighteenpence, and 
give instruction in dressmaking. If, further, 
he can induce her to learn arithmetic, and 
comprehend that there are only twenty shil- 
lings in a pound, and that an income of 
^N^ hundred a year will not enable people to 
live honestly at the rate of a thousand, I 
think he might go further and fare worse. 

These are, howcA^er, a good many ifs to be 
leapt in the race matrimonial, and, perhaps, 
though I doubt it, he might find another 
wife who would not require to go through 
such a course of education as I have indi- 
cated. 

Excuse me, most courteous reader, these 
discursive remarks. Although the past is 
present with me, the present will intrude, 
and crop up between me and the story I 
have undertaken to tell. Where was I ? — • 



142 My First Love, 

oh ! talking about Joan, who remained on 
at the paternal mansion to become the 
hoyden I have described, and to make me 
acquainted with Eose Surry. 

For which I shall be for ever grateful to 
Joan, who is now a great lady, happy in her 
husband, her children, her position, and 
herself. 

"We do not meet very often now, Joan 
and I, for there are certain memories we still 
wot of that have never been decently laid 
out, and shrouded, and coffined, and buried, 
and forgotten. No — only sometimes, when 
she is in London, and can spare time 
from her calls and parties, and other duties 
(they are duties) incident to her position, 
she drives over to the Temple in a quiet 
single-horse brougham, which she leaves in 
Essex Street, and then walks across Deve- 
reux Court, and so to Pump Court, where 
she will sit with me for an hour, while her 
coachman, who is of a literary turn of mind, 
reads Lloyd's Newspaper^ and sometimes, 



Our Ow7i Home. 143 

when he is quite sure no one can see him 
(but I have done so, crossing from Little 
Essex Sti'eet), indulges in a modest half- 
pint, nay, even adventures on a cigar. 

Joan will not visit my wife now, for there 
was once a deadly war waged between them, 
and Joan cannot quite forget. But she 
asks madam and my daughters to her assem- 
blies, where they have an opportunity of 
seeing everybody Avho has ever done any- 
thing, and, if they were of a reflective turn 
of mind, which they are not, of considering 
how exceedingly like ordinary mortals great 
folks are. 

For me, I do not go to Joan's grand 
parties, because, for one thing, I do not like 
parties, and in the next, I do not like her 
husband; although, mark you, were I in 
trouble, pecuniary or otherwise, there is not 
a man on earth to whom I would as soon 
turn in my distress as to him. And, on the 
other hand, if sorrow fell on him, I know 
he would come straight away to my office 



144 ^y First Love. 

and say, ^^Luttrell, you tried to help me 
once— will you do so again ? " 

There are different kinds of friendship, 
and there is one which takes the form of 
not wanting to see your friend every half 
horn- through the day. That is our form — 
and if you wish to know why, I will tell 
you as this story proceeds. 

But not just now, because I am going 
back to the mills and Mrs. Graham. 

The latter lady, I shall always believe,, 
thought that my father would never be able 
to raise the money, and that out of sheer 
desperation he would give her Joan, to 
whom she had taken a fancy when she was 
staying with us a year previously. She 
knew Colonel — now General — Montgomery 
was in India, and like most rich people who 
live selfish and isolated lives, she forgot 
that it is just upon the cards a poor man 
may, in the course of years, make some 
friend willing and able to help him at a 
pinch. 



Our Own Home. 145 

This some one my father knew, and 
turned to in his distress. He had turned 
to him for advice over the debts incurred 
on that wretched mill, and now he went to 
him for help, which was given. 

But my father was an honourable man, 
and, knowing his friend could not afford to 
risk the amount he offered him, namely, 
two thousand pounds, which should enable 
him to clear off everybody, and start in life 
again for the third time, he went to a 
lawyer, in order to inquire what security he 
could offer that might protect his creditor 
against loss. 

To this the lawyer — honest, perhaps, but 
short-sighted — answered, ''Insure your life, 
and give him a bill of sale." Which was 
just about equivalent to saying, '' Put your- 
self in a pan of scalding water for the 
remainder of your life," only, unhappily, 
my father did not see this. He insisted 
actually, against his creditor's desire, on 
giving him a bill of sale over every sheep 

VOL. II. L 



146 My First Love. 

lie owned, horse lie liad reared, hen he had 
hatched — over his ricks in the farm yard, 
and his implements, carts, furniture, dairy- 
utensils, garden-tools, and so forth. The 
stock being changeable, would hare been, of 
course, no earthly security in the hands of 
a different individual, but mv father looked 
upon the whole affair as a matter of 
honour, and if he sold a bullock, replaced 
it — if he parted with a stack of hay, duly 
acquainted Mr. Eeemes, his friend, with the 
fact. 

But what did not that bill of sale do for 
us? It destroyed our credit just as com- 
pletely as if we had been bankrupt — aye 
more, because a bankrupt did in those 
days re-enter the world a free man 
and that accursed document kept us bonds- 
men and bondswomen till the uttermost 
farthing had been paid. 

And to pay with a heavy life-insurance 
premium added was not easy. Well — God 
help us — when the end came, which did 



Our Own Home, 147 

€ome, no man could say my father had 
wronged him of a penny, or that he had 
lost a shilling by him. Further, he reared 
us all respectably, and taught us to live 
honestly and virtuously, and we were 
happy. Yes, I am grateful to remember 
that, though I sometimes wish I had been 
able to contribute more towards that happi- 
ness, and better content to live and die 
^^the jolly miller of Dee." 

Still time went on — it always does go on 
— and my father, struggling heavily with 
his anxieties, greeted me on my return from 
the school where, after much difficult study- 
ing of ways and means, he had placed me— 
with a welcome cheery and loving as ever. 

It was the summer when my story opens, 
and I had then been at school two years and 
a half, studying my best, and making good 
progress. Not knowing the state of the 
farming finances, I had desired to become a 
barrister ; and my father, who was proud as 
well as fond of me, said I should follow the 

l2 



148 My First Love. 

bent of my inclination, and become famous 
yet. 

I fancy my mind must have been much 
older than my years, for I can remember 
even then having visions of the great things 
destiny had in store for me. 

There was no height to which in my 
ambitious dreamings I did not climb. To 
inexperience the path to success seems 
always easy. There were no stones, no 
briars, no lurking disappointment, no pelt- 
ing showers of opposition and discourage- 
ment along the road I mentally travelled. I 
beheld myself wealthy and renowned, I 
pictured myself addressing a jury, I heard 
my own voice uplifted in the House of 
Commons. I do not think I was more vain 
or more conceited than most lads who have 
not yet found their level, but I must have 
possessed a certain consciousness of my own 
power to work, and succeed by reason of 
that power, and I used to wander about the 
fields during my summer holidays, dreaming 



Our Own Home. 149 

my dreams, and building castles in the air 
too grand for any mortal ever to inhabit. 

But by degrees there seemed to fall a 
mist over these fairy palaces. I could not 
now tell at what precise hour a cloud 
appeared first to flit over the surface of my 
future sky. I felt it was there, rather than 
beheld it. The air seemed to grow suddenly 
chilly. Like the '^keld" ruffling the sere- 
nity of a Cumberland tarn, there came over 
me something which caused me to know, 
dimly it may be, but still surely, that life 
could never prove to mortal like a fairy tale, 
wherein the flowers never withered, and 
sorrow never entered, and the trees re- 
mained green all the year — wherein men 
never grew feeble nor women old. 

I do know, however, when the storm first 
broke — when the magic glass was shivered, 
and the dear illusion dispelled — namely, on 
the afternoon of the day when I saw Eose 
Surry home. 

"Tom," said my father, coming to me 



150 My First Love. 

where I was preparing my tackle for the 
next morning's fishing — ^' Tom, I want to 
speak to you seriously for five minutes. 
You are old enough now to make a friend 
of, and I mean to talk to you like a friend, 
as well as a son, my boy." 

'''- What is it, father ?" I asked, anxiously^ 
for the sky seemed suddenly to darken over, 
and life in a moment to assume a very 
different aspect indeed. ^^What is the 
matter? I will try to be worthy of your 
trust if you only tell me how to make 
myself so." 

" Stop," he answered, ^^ do not promise 
till you hear what it all means," and then 
he went on to repeat what I have already 
told, with this addition — ^^ My health, Tom, 
is not what it was, and I have been think- 
ing the matter over seriously. Suppose 
anything happened to me, what would 
become of your mother, and brothers, and 
sisters ? If you still adhere to your inten- 
tention of becoming a barrister, years and 



Our Own Ho7ne. 151 

years must pass before you can earn a 
penny ; whereas, if you could only be content 
to remain at home, you might at a moment's 
notice step into my shoes, if at any future 
time the necessity arose, besides being of 
the greatest assistance to me in the present." 

I did not speak — I could not speak. I 
beheld my dream castle, like a mist wreath, 
vanishing away. Instead of doing great 
things for my family, I saw myself plodding 
on year after year — year after year — a 
farmer — a miller. 

I was young, and the sacrifice seemed 
great ; but I loved my father, and so, after 
a silence, during the continuance of which 
my disappointment seemed to be choking 
me, I said — '^ I would do whatever he liked." 

^^1^0, Tom," he replied, ^' I will not take 
that answer. I do not want you to remain 
at home merely because I tell you to do so. 
You must think the matter over, and decide 
for yourself. It is a great deal to give up — 
but it is also a great deal to be able to 



152 My First Love. 

accomplish. It shall be just as you like, 
Tom, after you have thought the matter 
over." 

And I did think it over — all the afternoon 
— all the time Eosie was telling me her fairy- 
tale — all the way I carried her in my arms 
home to Old Court — all the way back, till I 
met my father, as has already been related. 

It was an awful trial to give up thus, of 
my own free will, the hopes and the expec- 
tations of my life — to be brought down from 
the pursuit of fabulous wealth — of unheard- 
of fame — to the prosaism of an existence I 
knew so well. 

Had my father urged me to adopt any 
course — had he pictured to me the relief I 
could afford — the money my remaining at 
home would save — it might not have seemed 
so hard to decide ; but he left it for me — 
uninfluenced, remember, by any sentimental 
exaggerations — by any special pleading — to 
do what I thought best and right. 

And thinking it best and right to put self 



Our Own Home. 153 

on one side — to consider the many instead 
of the one, I decided — and when I told him 
my decision, and heard him say, ^^ God bless 
you, Tom !" a conviction stole over me that 
there might be something more blessed in 
life than having one's own way — namely, 
the consciousness of having striven to do 
one's best for those who were nearer and 
dearer than self. 

*^God bless you, Tom!" I think it no 
shame to say that my eyes filled when my 
father laid his hand on my shoulder and 
spoke those words, and that as we walked 
home through the twilight together, talking 
like friends, it seemed a finer and a manlier 
thing to face the realities of life, and con- 
quer them, than to build air castles, which 
never an one might inhabit, even mentally, 
save myself. 



134 



CHAPTEE V. 

ALL ABOUT ROSE, 

So it came about that I remained at home, 
and helped mj father. All the day long I 
was about the farm, or down at the mills — 
the upper mill, where the wheel was under- 
shot, and where that rascal Bill, the herd 
boy, instead of keeping his charges from 
straying, fished in the pond, with a bent 
pin and a bit of string, whenever he thought 
my back was turned — and the lower mill, 
which, though more newly built, was more 
picturesque, since the water fell over the 
wheel, making a pleasant music all the day 
long. 



All About Rose. 155 

Thus passed nearly four years, and during 
that time scarcely a day went by without 
my seeing Eose Surry. Sir Humphrey had 
always been friendly with my father, and in 
the habit of stopping at the mill, to chat 
over politics, or of accepting an invitation to 
enter our house — covered with creepers and 
roses — in order to say good-moming to my 
mother, and taste the last October brewing ; 
and although Lady Surry held herself aloof, 
as was natural, from such plebeians as oui'- 
selves, still a little incident, which occurred 
after I had been at home a year, compelled 
civility even from that stately dame, who, if 
only the daughter of a village apothecary, 
yet gave herself all those haughty airs 
which stamp the line of ^^ Yere de Yere." 

'-'- Set a beggar on horseback, and he will 
ride to the devil," states an old adage ; but 
Lady Surry, once mounted, did nothing of 
the kind. She simply galloped across the 
frontier line of a different class, and took up 
her position with them — a rare, haughty 



156 My First Love. 

madam, wlio looked down upon the ^4ower 
orders " as inferior beings, and made herself 
offensive to a degree no one who has not 
come in contact with a woman of her type 
can imagine. 

But, spite of her pride and conceit, there 
were things Lady Surry could not do. For 
example, she could not drive — she was not 
to the manner bom ; and though she would 
turn out in a low phaeton, sometimes drawn 
by a pair, sometimes by only one pony, 
every one saw that she had not the remotest 
idea how to manage a horse, and that if she 
failed some day to come to grief, it would 
only be through the special intervention of 
Providence, or, as not a few hinted, of that 
other power who is popularly, and, I must 
say, I think not erroneously, supposed to 
take care of his own. 

The service I was enabled to do Lady 
Surry arose out of her utter ignorance of 
equine nature, and was rendered in this 
wise. 



All About Rose. 157 



One day, as I was walking into Crom- 
mingford, I beheld, at some distance from 
me, a phaeton in imminent danger of being 
backed into the ditch, for the horse which 
was harnessed to it had drawn right across 
the road, plunging furiously, whilst the 
driver — a lady — strove to mend matters by 
flogging him unmercifully. 

The creature did not know what she 
wanted, and she did not know what she 
wanted herself; whereupon, seeing that the 
result could only prove a smash, and a bad 
one, I ran on to the scene of action as rapidly 
as possible, and arrived just in time to seize 
the reins, and prevent the frightened animal 
from over-turning both itself and the vehicle. 

Of course when I ran forward I did not 
know who the fair one in distress might be, 
nor for a moment afterwards, indeed — not 
until she spoke — was I aware that I had 
saved Lady Surry from what might have 
proved a serious accident, neither did she 
recognize me. 



158 My First Love. 

^^I cannot tliink," she began, in a tone 
wherein anger and fear were about equally- 
mingled, ^'what is the matter with the 
horse. He never did so before." 

^^ Perhaps he never had the same reason," 
I said while stroking the frightened creature, 
and trying to pacify him. " He has got the 
shaft inside the saddle ; you must have been 
urging him on and then suddenly checking 
him. Here, my lad," I added, addressing 
the small boy in buttons — her only attend- 
ant — who stood on the other side of the 
horse, apparently terrified to death. ^^ When 
I back him you pull out the shaft — do you 
see?" but the boy either could not see or 
else would not do it, so I had to beg Lady 
Surry to alight, while we unbuckled the 
strap and extricated the shaft, which must 
have annoyed the horse inconceivably. 

^' Oh ! it is you, Mr. Luttrell, is it ?" she 
said, as I assisted her to the ground. ^^ I am 
infinitely obliged for your kindness," where- 
upon I said it was nothing, all the time 



All About Rose. 1.5 9 

being well aware tliat madam's fingers were 
itching to give me half-a-crown, and that 
she was bemoaning her fate, which had sent 
me instead of a labourer to her assistance. 

After that I took the horse out, and 
walked him up and down for a few minutes 
— soothing him as best I could — then, when 
he seemed tolerably quiet, I harnessed him, 
spite of a few kicks and plunges. I was in 
my native element with the animal. I had 
been with horses all my life, and I felt 
almost superior for once to Lady Surry, 
whom I asked if she would allow me to 
drive her home. 

" He is hardly safe for a lady's hand yet," 
I suggested; and, although with a bad 
grace, she thanked me for my offer, and 
accepted it. 

As we drove up the avenue I saw Sir 
Humphrey before us in the distance, and 
when we overtook him I pulled up, and 
jumping out, proposed to relinquish the 
reins. 



i6o My First Love, 

^^No," he said, when Lady Surry had 
told him the story in a garbled form, and 
without giving me credit I thought I 
deserved, " as you have managed so ad- 
mirably, you had better complete your 
adventure by delivering my wife safely 
at home ; you know, Matilda," he added, 
^^what I always tell you, there is danger 
in your going out with only that boy, for 
you cannot drive — you never could — those 
phaetons are never safe vehicles at the best 
of times, and had the horse not been quiet 
as a sheep, it is hard to say where you 
might have been before Mr. Luttrell reached 
you." 

Which was altogether a nice re- assuring 
speech for a man to utter to a woman of 
Lady Surry's pecuKar mental organization, 
and I saw a flush rise nearly to her temples 
as she listened. 

She bore the thrust well, however, merely 
answering with a little laugh, "I think, 
however, I can manage him now so far as 



All About Rose. i6i 

the house myself, and I Avill drive on so as 
to meet Mr. Luttrell at luncheon." 

Thus assuming that I intended lunching 
with her. 

^* As the phaeton disappeared I turned to 
Sir Humphrey, and begged he would ex- 
cuse me if I said good-bye. 

"Indeed, I shall not excuse you at all,'' 
answered the Baronet, whose manner was 
hearty, and who meant what his manner 
implied. '^My wife told me to bring you 
in, and I mean to do so." 

But when I told him straightforwardly 
that I would rather not go to Old Court, 
that at home we dined early, and that if I 
were not in they would be waiting for me, 
Sir Humphrey seemed to understand exactly 
how I felt about the affair, and pressed his 
hospitality no further, although he walked 
with me so far as the gate near the bridge 
already mentioned, aye, and even strolled a 
few yards further up the lane. 

Perhaps it may have been this backward- 

VOL. II. M 



1 62 My First Love, 

ness on our part — this determination not 
to thrust ourselves upon people who were 
wealthier and grander than we — that made 
Lady Surry more tolerant of Eose's visits to 
our house, or perhaps she did not know of 
their frequency. 

Personally, I have always suspected that 
the good looks and flattering tongue of a 
young fellow employed in the lower mill, 
had much to do with the fact that Eose's 
nurse affected with her charge this particular 
spot of earth. 

'' It was so nice sitting by the water," one 
day she told me ; but then, as there was 
water in Sir Humphrey's grounds, this 
assertion did not exactly ^' wash," for which 
reason, perhaps, she thought it well to add — 

^^And it is so pleasant to hear the mill- 
wheel going." A remark that, having a 
touch of poetry about it, looked to me still 
more suspicious. 

Those were the days in which Eose and I 
became such fast comrades — in which we 



All About Rose. 163 

looked for the earliest primroses, and welcomed 
wild hyacinths, violets, and wood-anemones, 
like friends. Those were the days when we 
looked for the blue bonnets' eggs, and 
watched with the intensest anxiety for the 
moment when half-a-dozen young thrushes 
should, at sight of us, open their bills for 
food —those were the days when my darling 
made herself swords, and parasols, and but- 
terfly cages, out of rushes — when we were all 
very innocent and very happy, and when I 
had experienced just enough of the world's 
disappointments and the world's anxiety to 
be aware of the value of a happiness which 
the troubles and cares of after life often 
prevent a man enjoying. 

The sacrifice — I use the word for want of 
a better, for none occurs at the moment, 
which will exactly express my meaning — 
the sacrifice of my own inclinations I had 
made, and the footing on which my father 
put me when I made it, enabled me to take 
part in the family councils, and as my father 

m2 



164 My First Love, 



and I drew nearer and nearer together, I 
ventured to suggest many reforms in our 
menage^ and to institute domestic changes 
that seemed to me greatly needed. 

Studying hard myself, and doing what I 
could to instruct Joan, whose education was 
grievously backward, seeing no chance of 
the younger fry being sent to school, and 
noticing that years, the most important of 
their lives, were passing away while they 
were learning nothing during their passage, 
I talked to my father concerning the expedi- 
ency of procuring a governess capable of 
teaching the elder children, and initiating 
Joan into those feminine mysteries and ac- 
complishments wherein, owing to the fact 
that my mother's time was always occupied 
with the younger children, she bade fair to 
be so ignorant. 

It was a good day for Joan when Miss 
Snowdon came amongst us, and the governess 
proved a comfort to my mother too, although 
at first, of course, she did not like the idea 



All About Rose, 165 

of having a stranger domesticated at our 
hearth. 

IN'aturally, Joan sulked and rebelled a 
little at the commencement of the new' 
dynasty, but after a long talk and walk she 
and I had one day together, she agreed she 
was growing old enough to be a ^ ' yoimg 
lady," and to try to help in keeping things 
straight. Dear Joan, she made none the 
worse mother to our young ones, none the 
less careful an instructress when the time 
arrived for her to do her part, because she 
had once climbed trees, and stolen cherries, 
and perilled her neck, and torn her clothes. 

In my short-sightedness I was wont to 
endure agonies of humiliation at the ways of 
my ''boy sister," as I used to call her; but 
there was not one amongst us nine who 
turned out so true, and brave, and tender, 
and self-sacrificing, as Joan, and I have often 
thought since, that in the woods and by the 
river she must have conned those lessons 
which have since stood her in such good 



1 66 My First Love. 

stead many and many a time. If she did 
not learn what she knew from nature, where 
else could she have been so instructed ? A 
grand girl you developed into, my sister, 
when the need came for you to exert your- 
self ; and prosperity has not changed your 
nature, for you are the largest-souled woman 
I ever met — not one, even my love, excepted. 
After Miss Snow don had been with us for 
a time, one day, to our intense astonishment, 
Lady Surry called, not, as might be imagined, 
to request that all acquaintance between her 
daughter and Joan sliould cease, but to ask, 
as a great favour, if Eose might be permitted 
to join Miss Snowdon's classes. She had 
heard from Sir Humphrey, she added, ^' what 
a most superior person Mrs. Luttrell's gover- 
ness appeared, and as Eose was too delicate 
and young to be sent to school, she felt most 
anxious for her to learn with other children, 
when emulation might induce application." 
All of which being translated, meant that 
Lady Surry was beginning to feel ashamed 



All About Rose. 167 

of Eose, who really, so far as book-learning 
went, could not be considered any better 
tban a little dunce, and that she most 
earnestly desired to avoid the expense and 
trouble of engaging a governess on her own 
account. 

Clearly she had survived all her former 
fears of our encroaching on her condescension, 
for she was most gracious in her manner to- 
wards my mother, and actually went so far as 
to say she hoped she would come some day 
and see the gardens at Old Court. 

Considering the gardens at Old Court 
were not worth seeing, and that my mother 
never went outside our gates excepting to 
church. Lady Surry's somewhat careful ap- 
proaches to neighbourliness were duly appre- 
ciated by us all. 

But it was settled that Eose should come 
and learn with our children, and accordingly 
each day in the summer my fairy used, 
attended by her nurse, or Hoskins, to come 
over dressed all in white, while in the winter 



1 68 My First Love. 

she appeared a mass of bright colours 
wrapped up in furs. The darling face, 
looking out from its scarlet hood trimmed 
with white swansdown, seems to be peeping 
at me now. Oh, Eose, I loved you then, 
although I did not know it — although not a 
feminine face, excepting those of my mother 
and sisters, had ever glanced out of the 
windows of my air castles, I loved you, 
sweetest — loved you when I used to run out 
and lift you from the phaeton, and carry you 
away to the school-room, where I set you 
down beside a blazing fire. 

Every one was fond of the child — she was 
everybody's pet — she was in nobody's way. 
She was not clever, but she could learn 
all it seemed likely she would ever need to 
know, and I helped her, and so did Joan, 
and she worshipped Joan, believing my 
sister to be the best, the dearest, the darlingest 
creature that ever lived. 

Since his marriage, I do not believe Sir 
Humphrey had ever felt so happy as when 



All About Rose, 169 



it was arranged that his pet was to come 
and learn with our children. Sometimes he 
would take our house on his way home, and 
then it was wonderful to see the little eager 
face, and to hear the glad cry of ^' papa, 
papa," and to behold how, unmindful of all 
discipline, she would fling down her book 
and rush out to greet him, and be caught 
up in his great strong arms. They would 
go away hand-in-hand together like a pair 
of chikben, Eose turning at intervals to nod 
to Joan, who always watched the little figure 
disappearing till it became a mere speck in 
the distance. 

Once, too, when Lady Surry was invited 
to some grand house where it was impossible 
she could go without a maid, she wrote and 
asked my mother to take charge of Eose 
during her absence ; and although we all felt 
Lady Sur>y was doing us the honour of 
making use of our poor house and its belong- 
ings, still we were too glad at the prospect 
of Eose's visit to feel resentful or other than 



lyo My First Love. 

delighted, to have the fairy princess all to 
ourselves for a whole fortnight. 

It was during the course of that fortnight 
Dick Tullett, an old schoolfellow of mine, 
who had turned artist, and was down 
sketching in our neighbourhood, took a 
portrait of Eose, sitting in our porch, with 
her lap full of flowers, and her face turned 
half towards us, while her eyes were inclined 
to look shyly down. Dick had never until 
then thought of becoming a portrait or figure 
painter, but he succeeded so well in repro- 
ducing Eose on paper, that Sir Humphrey 
bought the crayon sketch from him, and 
Dick, with that adaptability which is one of 
the proofs of genius, at once abandoned trees, 
and turned his attention to men, or rather to 
women. 

He is Dick Tullett no more to me or to 
anybody else ; he is Eichard Tullett, Esquire, 
E. A., who lives in a great house at the West 
End, and has painted half the female members 
of the nobility, and is noted for his dexterous 



All About Rose. 171 



treatment of satin and pearls. He exhibits 
every year of course several portraits which 
are so many advertisements and testimonials 
in his favour ; he has become in his way — 
a bad way in my opinion — a tremendous 
swell, and is good enough to invite us to his 
'''• At Homes," which are held on Saturday 
evenings, with an appendix on Sundays 
for the benefit of a select few ; but I do not 
like Dick now any more than I like his 
pictures. 

He could no more paint a child at this 
minute like the child he drew when scarcely 
out of his teens, than he could fly. They 
are all little ladies — all misses — all lack- 
ing that sweet simplicity wherewith he 
surrounded my darling seated amid the 
flowers. * 

From his youth upward Dick always kept 
one eye fixed steadily upon the main chance,, 
even though at the same time he might be 
looking with the other at his art ; therefore 
it did not surprise me that he should accept 



172 My First Love, 

Sir Humphrey's offer for a portrait lie had 
really executed for and given to me. Neither 
will it astonish any one who may have the 
pleasure of Mr. TuUett's acquaintance at the 
present day, to know he never offered to 
draw me another. 

In after days Sir Humphrey kindly lent 
the original to Joan, who copied it for me in 
her amateur fashion, and from that copy 
was executed by one of the most lovely 
portrait-painters I ever knew the minia- 
ture which suggested the title of this 
story, and which is lying before me as I 
write. 

We were happy then in that glorious 
summer weather, happy as health and youth 
-and inexperience ought ever to be. There 
was sunshine above, there were flowers all 
round and about our paths. "We seemed to 
be living in a great house containing many 
rooms, the treasures of which could never 
change nor become exhausted ; but our house, 
our beautiful habitation, was built upon the 



All About Rose. 173 

sand, and when, after the tempest which 
beat upon it, the rain had subsided, and the 
winds were still, behold we looked, and 
there remained not of all that grand pile one 
stone left upon another. 



174 



CHAPTEE VI. 

LOVE-MAKING. 

After I had been '' doing my duty," as 
people put it, for the space of three years or 
thereabouts, and when things were getting 
a little straighter pecuniarily, when spite of 
the bill of sale we had weathered some very 
ugly storms, and were beginning to consider 
ourselves in tolerably smooth waters, there 
oame overtures of conciliation from Mrs. 
Graham, who wrote to say that having inci- 
dentally heard her nephew had relinquished 
his plan of letting me study for the bar, she 
could not refrain from expressing her regret 
at the fact. She had hoped, she said, before 



Love-7naking. 175 



she died, to see one of the family in the way 
of making himself famous, and it was con- 
sequently a real grief to her (this Mrs. 
Graham underlined) to learn that her nej^hew 
meant to waste the brains she understood I 
possessed on ^^ guano and bran." 

Why Mrs. Graham pitched on those two 
words as representative terms for agriculture 
and milling, to this day I cannot compre- 
hend ; I only know she employed them, and 
that my father pondered over her sentence 
more perhaps than he might have done had 
it been differently worded. 

Had Mrs. Graham's letter, however, con- 
tained no further remarks, it is needless to 
say the grief it expressed would have been 
disregarded ; but the lady, warming with 
her subject, proceeded to greater lengths. 
She offered, in the event of my father per- 
mitting me to pursue the course originally 
intended, to let bygones be bygones, to pay 
all my reasonable expenses through college, 
and to allow me one hundred and fifty 



176 My First Love, 

pounds a year till I had made the way at 
the bar she confidently anticipated for me. 
Should I care to gratify an old woman's 
whim, she went on, it would please her if I 
could come to town and arrange prelimina- 
ries. She wanted no thanks, it was purely 
to please herself she made the proposal, and 
she trusted in this case no feeling of jealousy 
on the part of my parents would frustrate 
her wishes. 

Jealousy ! I should like to have seen the 
person who could have made my parents 
jealous concerning the affection of their 
children ! 

Had my father given me this letter to read 
over quietly, when I was alone, I think 
nothing might ever have come of it — that 
my sense would have told me I was doing 
my duty where I was, and that, all things 
considered, I had no right to place my in- 
clinations first, the help I owed my father 
second. 

But he read the letter to me, and the 



Love-making, 177 

thing coming suddenly — at a time, too, 
when I was perhaps a trifle weary of the 
monotony of my work, when the old dis- 
content was leavening all my nature — I 
could not for the moment help a look of 
utter thankfulness resting on my face — 
an exclamation of rejoicing escaping my 
lips. 

*' That settles the question, Tom,'' said my 
father — and though, sobered in a moment, 
I begged time for consideration, for decision, 
he adhered to his text. 

" I know where your heart is now," he 
replied to all my entreaties — " I know, and 
I will not baulk you again. Besides, things 
are much better now, Tom — and if — if any- 
thing happened to me, you are old enough, 
and business man enough, to see to them. 
And Joan is growing up, also — dear Joan!" 

Dear Joan ! — ay, truly the blessed angel 
of our house— who came to me when she 
heard the news, and bade me go forth, never 
doubting. 

VOL. II. N 



178 My First Love. 

" I will try to take your place, so far as I 
can, Tom. I can see to most things, and 
help papa greatly ; and he has set his heart, 
like Mrs. Graham and me, on your doing 
credit to us all — so go, Tom — go. It will 
be best for every one of us." 

'•^ If you were not here, Joan, I should not 
go a step," I said. 

'•'- Then for me — go," she answered, and I 
agreed. 

But Joan — dear Joan — could you but 
have seen to the end, would you have been 
so urgent, I wonder ? Has all the success 
paid quite for the disappointment ? 

" But you might have had the disappoint- 
ment without the success," Joan would sug- 
gest, were she here at this moment; and 
I subscribe to this, believing honestly that 
all we have to do with our lives is to bear 
the burden of them, and to try and make 
ourselves content with whatever lot God is 
pleased to give us. 

And so it was all settled that Mrs. 



Love-making. 179 



Graham's offer should be accepted, and I go 
up to London to see the old lady — and life. 
At the risk of being considered either un- 
truthful or methodistical, I found both about 
equally dull. London, I take it, to a youth 
who has been decently brought up, and who 
has no friends in the great metropolis, is as 
stupid a place as the Essex marshes. I had 
no one to take me to see those sights 
which are really interesting — I had no one 
to talk to — ^no one to tell me the places of 
amusement at which a few hours might be 
spent pleasantly. 

There is no town where a lad cannot find 
plenty of people to indoctrinate him into its 
vices and its follies ; but these casual ac- 
quaintances had no charms for me. I was 
not exactly like a boy let loose from his 
mother's apron strings, and when, in sheer 
disgust and ennui^ I turned back to the poor 
lonely woman in Queen Anne Street, who 
was going to do so much for me, that I felt 
my leisure hours were due to her, she re- 



i8o My First Love, 



received me with sucli gratitude, as convinces 
me now her married life could not have been 
an existence drenched through and through 
with rose water. 

Of my college experiences I do not intend 
to give you any record ; I worked hard, and 
ultimately proved successful. I had my 
troubles, but I extricated myself from them. 
I got into debt — more shame for me — but 
managed to satisfy the people who had 
trusted to my honour — shall I say ? without 
troubling my father I had my flirtations 
— one a trifle too serious, so far as the girl 
was coDcemed, to recall now without regret ; 
but all these things have afi'ected my life but 
little. What did influence it, was that 
evening in the early spring time, when I 
stood with Eose Surry under the apple trees, 
whispering my love. 

I have already repeated what she said to 
me afterwards, and the reader may conclude 
from that what words were foregone. Truth 
was, we had always loved each other, and 



Love-making. 1 8 1 



whenever we came to years of discretion — 
nay, rather to the years when folly seems 
wisdom — we could refrain from speech no 
longer. It was so sweet to stand there in 
the moonlight, with my arm round her 
waist, unmindful of father or mother — of 
social differences — of ways and means — of 
marriage — of houses — servants, equipages, 
friends, society — of aught save love. 

Had I the gift of that successful Acade- 
mician, Eichard Tullett, Esq., I should like 
to present you with a sketch from memory 
of my darling, as she stood in the moonlight, 
with her dear head a little drooping, listen- 
ing to the old, old story, that was then all 
new to her — new to her — yes, new to both 
of us. I am grateful to remember it was so, 
Eose — that I never really loved a woman 
before — that I have never, in the true 
acceptation of the word, loved a woman since. 
Oh ! sweet, pure face, did the moon's light 
ever fall on anything more beautiful ! Oh ! 
slight, fragile figure, did poet ever dream of 



1 82 My First Love. 

aught more exquisite than your tender grace ! 
Oh ! dear, true heart — mine is breaking now 
to think of all it had to endure. Though 
grey hairs are plentifully mingling with the 
black — though my cheeks are furrowed, and 
Time's chisel has been busy tracing lines 
across my forehead — though I am growing 
old, and feel often that the end is nearer than 
the beginning, still, recalling this night all 
our story, memory leaps back over the years, 
and the bliss and the anguish are both as 
keen now as they seemed in the days when 
we both were young — when we loved, when 
we hoped, when we lost. 

I was twenty-five years of age that very 
day, and my darling a little over sixteen ; 
but she was in many ways younger than her 
age then — just as she had been younger 
than her age when first I knew her. 

To her parents she seemed only a child 
still, while to mine she was no older than 
Patty, who had only been promoted to long 
dresses and turned-up hair a few months 



Love-making, 1 83 



previously. Joan was the only one wlio 
suspected our affection one for the other, or 
who guessed, when she came to call us in to 
supper, why we had lingered in the orchard 
so long. 

1 suppose, had Eose been a model young 
lady, she would, instead of letting me know 
that I was more to her than anybody in the 
world, have referred me to her father — as we 
are well aware that fathers usually know 
more of the secrets of their daughters' hearts 
than daughters themselves ; but then Eose 
was not a model young lady, and chanced 
to be also an utter coward, dreading her 
mother's anger — never so happy as when 
she could keep every occurrence of her life 
from that matron's knowledge, and never so 
wretched as while dreading that " perhaps 
mamma might get to know — perhaps some 
one might tell her." 

For myself, I confess that although clearly 
I ought either to have asked Sir Humphrey's 
consent to my addressing his daughter at 



184 My First Love, 

all, or proceeded next morning to Old Court, 
there to unfold a tale, I did nothing of the 
kind, and were I to pass my life over 
again, I should still do nothing of the 
kind. 

I never could understand, and I never 
shall, learned in the law as people imagine 
me to be, why the moment a man has 
whispered a love tale, he should be expected 
forthwith to ice his passion by requesting an 
interview with the beloved object's father — 
why he should, within twenty-four hours at 
latest, be required to chill his tender affec- 
tions by entering, hat in hand, the library 
where paterfamilias receives him grimly — 
(I am speaking, of course, of those cases 
when a man has not ten thousand a year and 
a title, and is consequently utterly ineligible, 
excepting in the eyes of the '-'- one only,") 
and going through a statement of his affairs, 
which in the nature of things cannot, and 
does not, prove satisfactory, but always 
leaves the stern parent full of dark suspi- 



Love- making. 185 



cions concerning his income, his prospects, 
his connections, his habits, his expenses, 
and himself. 

It has often occurred to me that it would 
save much trouble and anxiety both to the 
lover and the beloved object's friends, if after 
a certain amount of spooniug had been gone 
through, and the sentiments of dearest 
Donnabella ascertained, the young aspirant 
for matrimonial honours were to write some- 
what in this fashion to Donnabella's natural 
protector : — 

'' SlE, 

'' I beg to inform you that, having every 
reason to believe your beloved daughter 
regards me with sentiments warmer than 
those of mere esteem, I have placed a state- 
ment of my affairs in the hands of Messrs. 
Crisp and Sutton, Accountants, Throgmorton 
Street, who in the course of a few days will 
communicate with you on the subject, when 
I trust the result may prove satisfactory. 



1 86 My First Love. 

"With, reference to the respectability of my 
antecedents and present position, I beg to 
enclose testimonials which would, I flatter 
myself, convince the mind of even a Marl- 
borough Street magistrate. 

^' Your obedient servant, 

^'Donnabella's Lover." 

The advantages of such a course of pro- 
ceeding must be at once apparent. It would 
be pleasanter for the young man, for the 
young woman, and for the young woman's 
friends, and it would further produce another 
most desirable effect, namely, enabling Don- 
nabella's lover, when he became her husband, 
to silence those remarks concerning Donna- 
bella's not " having known," and Donna- 
belPs lover having deceived her before mar- 
riage, which occasionally, when the veneer 
of the ^walnut-wood furniture begins to 
crack, and the paint of the newly decorated 
villa to peel off, and the first brightness of 
the bran-new carpets to fade, are apt to be 



L ove- making. 187 



made by even the most devoted of wives, 
and the best of women. 

I, at all events, after sunning myself in 
Eose's smiles, never dreamt of venturing 
into the keen frost I knew I should have to 
encounter in the presence chamber at Old 
Court, and indeed, when I told Eose that I 
loved her — and she said she loved me — 
marriage seemed as far distant from us as 
death. 

There was no need to think of or to plan 
for it. Years must pass, I knew, before it 
would be possible for me to take Eose away 
from her parents ; but she was so young, 
this seemed a matter of little consequence, 
and I felt so sure of my own ultimate 
success, of my own ability eventually to 
surround her with every luxury she was 
likely to desire, that I felt it no dishonour 
to let her even in stealth engage herself to 
me. I knew no one could love Eose as I 
loved her, I knew no one could make her 
so happy, and finally I could not help tell- 



1 88 3fy First Love, 

ing her all that was in my heart. Many 
an evening during that visit home, the 
words, though trembling on my lips, re- 
mained unuttered. It was all such fairy 
land that I di-eaded speaking, lest speech 
should destroy the illusion. True love 
always makes a man timid, and I remained 
silent when my heart was full, lest my dove, 
instead of nestling in my bosom, should be 
frightened away. 

But somehow it all came about naturally 
that evening. I was leaving on the mor- 
row, and Eose looked sad; I told her I 
should be back again for a long, long visit 
in the summer, and then she sighed and said 
she feared she should not be at Old Court. 
That very day Lady Surry had spoken of 
the necessity of their going abroad, as Sir 
Humphrey's health had lately been any- 
thing rather than satisfactory. 

Then I asked her if she should be glad to 
go, and she said she should like to visit the 
continent, but^ — 



L ove- viaking. 1 8 9 



^^ But what, Eose?" 

^^ I have never been very much with 
mamma, and I shall be sorry to leave Old 
Court and Joan." 

'^ And no one else ? " I asked. My heart 
seemed to stand still at my own temerity, 
but the plunge had been made and I must 
go on. 

How I went on I cannot remember, and 
if I could I should not tell ; all I can say 
is we stood there steeped in bliss, as the 
orchard lay steeped in moonlight, and the 
fairy tale of her childhood had come actually 
to pass, and in answer to my question she 
said, with that slight lisp which comes back 
to my ear now — the merest suspicion of a 
lisp — ^' It all happened in this garden, Tom, 
and the prince and princess are you and me.'' 

Oh! royal land of love, which may be 
trodden alike by peer and peasant, in which 
each man, whatever his estate, may feel a 
king ! I wonder if any two who ever 
entered your domain were so happy as Eose 



iQO My First Love, 

and I that niglit ! For us the curse seemed 
lifted from the earth, to us the supper-table, 
to which Joan summoned us, seemed spread 
with viands that tasted as food had never 
tasted before — we felt no sorrow, we expe- 
rienced no dread — and when we left the 
dining-room, and passed into an apartment 
which was lighted only by the moon-beams, 
in order that Joan, as was her custom, might 
sing to my father before he retired for the 
night, I silently pressed Eose's hand, in 
order to emphasize the words of Joan's song, 
and in return the little fingers closed on 
mine with a clasp that seemed to say : 
^' N"ever, Tom — never — for ever." 

There are some ballads which appear to 
mix themselves up with one's life. It does not 
matter how slight the words may be, or ho w 
simple the melody to which they are allied 
— they still link themselves with the recol- 
lection of events, still after long years float 
plaintively through the chambers of memory. 
As I remember the moonlight and the 



Love-making, 191 



apple blossoms, the soft tender expression 
that passed over my darling's face, the 
pressure of her hand, the touch of her hair 
when it swept my cheek as I drew her to- 
wards me, so likewise I remember the ballad 
Joan sung that night, with a certain inten- 
tion and meaning, I thought, but perhaps I 
might be mistaken ; yet if not, the words, 
were strangely applicable to our position. 
Here they are: — 



" I never can forget thee, 

Whate'er my lot may be ; 
In sadness or in joy, my heart 

"Will ever turn to thee : 
The fond remembrance of the past 

May sometimes bring regret. 
But till my life shall cease to be, 

I never can forget. 

I never can forget thee, 

My destiny is cast, 
Eor as thou wert my first love, 
So thou wilt be my last ; 



192 My First Love. 

You say I soon shall cease to think 

That we have ever met, 
But oh ! you little know my heart, 

To say I can forget."* 

Joan sang other songs that night, but of 
them my memory holds no record. Love 
never does, save of the things which con- 
cerns itself; save for the beloved object it 
is essentially selfish. I fear Eose and I 
were essentially selfish, as seated close beside 
one another we listened to the music. 
Knowing what we knew^ it was sufficient to 
be near, breathing the same air, hearing the 
same music — ah ! me. 

Suddenly it seemed so to my imagination, 
but in reality I suppose after a long succes- 
sion of sweet sounds, Joan rose from the 
piano. 

" Do you know how late it is ? " she asked, 
putting her hands on my shoulder ; and I 

* The words of the above, which are written by 
Miss E. Hersee, have been wedded to a simple and 
touching melody by Mrs. John Holman Andrews. 



L ove-making. 193 



started to remember Eose had onlj^ stayed 
with us to supper, after much persuasion, 
and on the positive assurance that I would see 
her home early, before Sir Humphrey and 
Lady Surry returned from a dinner party 
whither they were gone. 

'' I will put on my bonnet at once," Eose 
said, guiltily, and then with the charming 
readiness and equivocation natural to her 
sex, she added : ^^ I forgot everything, dear 
Joan, while listening to your singing." 

Did you, love ? I think not quite. 

When she hurried from the room to in- 
vest herself in the warm wraps which Milly 
insisted she should wear, Joan, coming quite 
close up to me, observed: "I shall walk 
home with you, Tom." 

^^ No, no, Joan," I answered pettishly, 
" you had much better not venture out in 
the night air." 

But Joan, drawing me aside to one of the 
windows, stuck to her resolution. ''Last 
evening I should not have offered the inflic- 

voL. II. 



194 -^y Fi'f^^i Love. 

tion of my company, but to-nigTit I insist," 
she said. ^^ Last evening no matter wliat 
any person had remarked, you might have 
defied him, but now the case is different. I 
shall be dreadfully de trop^ of course, but I 
mean to make one of the party, never- 
theless." 

"Which she did, keeping close beside us 
on the open road, where we might possibly 
meet some passer-by, and lingering behind 
as we entered the avenue, when my hand 
stole to Eose's and Eose's little palm pressed 
against mine in token of dear remembrance 
of the words we heard that evening mutually 
uttered. 

Joan, if you were not so high above me, 
mentally as well as socially, I should like 
to ask, as a mere matter of curiosity, where 
you learnt all the lore you used to such 
advantage on the occasion in question. 

Not out of any book, so much I can swear, 
since no book of that sort has ever been 
written ; not by experience, for girls, unless 



L ove- making, 195 



they lead the lives of utter Bohemians, 
must, for reasons too numerous to mention, 
remain experimentally ignorant of these 
matters, until a lover appears for whom they 
care. Now, though there were one or two 
individuals who ^'came after" Joan, to use 
an expression current in our part of the 
world, there was nobody Joan wanted to 
come after her. My hoyden sister held her 
head rather high for her position, suitors 
said, thus reconciling themselves to the 
rebuffs they received ; but though Joan has 
since married above her then station, I know 
she was not waiting to carry her wares to 
a better market. 

Only like many girls she had her ideal 
of a husband, and none of the young men 
who sought her love fulfilled that ideal, 
wherefore Joan was still heart-whole, and 
yet she knew by intuition all Eose and I 
had to say to each other. 

I should like to be a woman for a time, 
in order to be able to understand the reason 

o2 



196 My First Love. 

of this wonderful instinct which they 
possess. 

Truly as the author of ^ School ' remarks : 
^' Bless them, they know everything, and 
what they do not nature teaches them." 

But how does nature do it ? I wish Mr. 
Eobertson had added that piece of informa- 
tion. 

When we drew near the house, Joan 
came to Eose's side, but she did not talk, 
or seem to hear my whisper to Rose as we 
stood before the hall door : ^' Are you happy, 
love?" 

She lifted her dear eyes to mine, and as 
the moonlight fell full upon her face, I could 
read there no shadow of disquietude, no 
trace of doubt or regret. 

'' You know I am," she murmured shyly ; 
and then Hoskins, grown grey and stooping, 
appeared, and Joan and I bade her good- 
night, and walked back together, talking as 
we went about it all, and the best course for 
us to pursue. 



Love-makiiig, 197 



And we both agreed for reasons which the 
sagacious reader may easily imagine, that 
the best thing for the three of us to do under 
the circumstances was to say nothing what- 
ever — for some time, at least — about the fact 
that I loved Eose, and that Eose loved me. 

When in my childhood I was inducted 
into the mysteries of English Grammar, and 
learnt in Lindley Murray the famous sen- 
tence anent Penelope, I never imagined that 
a similar form of speech could come to mean 
so much to me. 

^' You will have to be very careful, 
though," Joan remarked; ''you must not 
let any one suspect your feelings till you 
have spoken to Sir Humphrey. That was 
the reason I wished to chaperone you to- 
night. Tom, confess that for a moment you 
actually hated me ? " 

But I would not confess, and declared 
that her society had added greatly to the 
pleasure of our walk. ^N'evertheless Joan 
held to her opinion. 



igS 



CHAPTER VII. 

I SEE SIR HUMPHREY. 

It is a great pity that when a young man 
tells a young woman he loves her, it is there- 
by implied and understood — always suppos- 
ing the young man means, as the lower ten 
millions say, to ^' act honourable " — he is to 
marry her with all convenient speed. It 
would be so nice if the matter could go on 
for a little time — even, shall we say, for a 
fortnight — without the fact of the adored 
one possessing a body which will need to be 
supplied with necessary food, and provided 
with sufficient raiment, being forced upon his 
attention. This is a point on which women 



/ See Sir Hianphrey. 199 

have such an advantage over ns. "How 
much will it cost ? '' need never occur to 
their minds — unless, indeed, with reference 
to their trousseau, and then somebody else 
pays for it. 

It shakes down a quantity of the apple 
blossom at once, having to consider that ac- 
cursed pecuniary question. Man being a 
reasoning animal, and therefore unhappy, 
has to consider, while seeking his mate 
amongst the flowers of early spring, whether 
he shall be able to provide haws and berries 
enough for her sustenance in the winter 
weather. I am not aware that such consider- 
ing does much good, or that looking forward, 
as it is called, really betters one's position ; 
but the whole thing has come to be such a 
recognised necessity of British society, that 
one might as well turn atheist at once, or 
unbeliever in the happiness of being pos- 
sessed of fifty thousand a-year, as strive to 
evade it. 

Even mentally I did not, and I cannot 



200 My First Love. 

say that the study of ways and means in- 
creased my happiness. The very next 
morning after I had declared my love, I 
awoke with a new sense of bliss, and a new 
sense of misery, on me. I loved — I was 
beloved ; but, alas ! it was needful for me 
from that hour to consider how soon I could 
provide a nest for my darling — a home I 
could ask her to share. 

This was the weariness. So far as Rose 
and I were concerned, we could have gone 
on love-making patiently for an indefinite 
period ; but then, in the present admirable 
state of society, which requires that before a 
man begins to make love, he shall ask the 
beloved object to fix the marriage day, this 
was impossible. Had we only been the 
persons whose inclinations needed to have 
been consulted, we could rapturously have 
taken lodgings, and billed and cooed on a 
second floor, a respectable wedded couple ; 
or we could have corresponded, writing love- 
letters by the five hundred, and wandered 



/ See Sir Hzmtphrey. 201 

about the lanes of Crommingford when I 
found leisure to return thither, till luck 
changed and I co.uld feel safe in asking my 
love to share the discomforts of a newly 
built semi-detached villa, to which paradi- 
siacal abode we might invite our friends, if 
we had any — wishing them at Jericho all 
the time. 

But either x^lan, and both plans, Mrs. 
Orundy negatived. 

"You shall neither," so that worthy lady 
said to me, whilst I was shaving next morn- 
ing, and, in the process, cutting my chin — 
^^You shall neither marry Eose on your 
terms, nor court her as you wish. If the 
thing is to be at all, you must first face your 
position, and then Sir Humphrey; after 
which you may perchance have a few bliss- 
ful moments — more possibly not.'' 

Whereupon I anathematized both Mrs. 
Grundy and my razor, and resolved to let 
things remain. 

I am happy to think things remained, for 



202 My First Love. 

what do you imagined occurred? Lady 
Surry, who would persist in considering 
Eose a child, asked my mother to take 
charge of her during her and Sir Hum- 
phrey's absence on the Continent, adding 
that, as of course Miss Surry's visit would 
entail extra expense, she and Sir Humphrey 
should wish, being aware of our circum- 
stances, to render that expense as light as 
possible. 

To which my dear mother — Heaven bless 
her ! — replied never thinking of conse- 
quences, that as one child was away, and 
dear Eose would but fill the place of their 
absent son, she and my father could not 
think of looking upon, or receiving her^ 
save as a visitor — one of the family. 

Whereupon Lady Surry wrote a very 
polite letter of acknowledgment, accepted 
the kindness as cordially as it was offered (?), 
and sent Eose. 

Dear Eose, those were days spent in para- 
dise to us. We were together from morning 



/ See Sir Humphrey. 203 

till night, we visited all the well-remembered 
haunts, we stood together where I rescued 
the bag, and we sat on the bank of the river 
as we had sat that day when Lady Surry 
appeared to spoil our enjoyment. Sometimes 
Joan was with us, sometimes we wandered 
about the fields and through the woods alone 
together. It was heaven that time. I hope 
I am not profane when I say I cannot 
imagine or understand any heaven where 
Eose and I shall not be permitted to wander,, 
hand in hand, through the Elysian fields. 

'^ Purified," suggests an evangelical rela- 
tive. My dear saint, love purifies. Eose 
and I were pure in those days, in thought 
and word, as God's holy angels. 

"Married," suggests a cynic. '^ And 
mated," I answer, which disarms his satire. 

There is some truth, I do believe, in the 
old Scottish idea that he who laughs uproari- 
ously over night is *'fey." 

In Mr. Grant's novel, the 'Eomance 
of War,' which I have not read for a 



^04 My First Love, 

quarter of a century or less, there is an ac- 
count of a certain Cameron of Fassifern, 
who, enjoying himself more than his wont 
as it might be to-night, died not ingloriously 
on the following day. And sometimes, 
when Eose and I were standing in the full 
sunlight of love, there would steal through 
my mind a memory of that olden super- 
stition. 

It was too much, we were too happy ; 
the bliss was too great for earth, the cup too 
full to be carried steadily to our lips. And 
yet, my darling, if you could speak to me 
now, I think, spite of all that followed, you 
would accept the subsequent grief rather than 
have the sunshine and the love of those 
summer days blotted out from memory. I 
know I would ; and much as you suffered, 
sweetest, I rather fancy that, being a man, 
my share of the misery was worse than 
yours — at least I hope so now, as I hoped 
so then. 

Parents are slow to recognize the pos- 



/ See Sir Htirnphrey, 205 

sibility of their sons and daughters falling 
in love, and mine proved no exception to the 
general rule. Further, they were a little 
thrown off the track on which my affections 
were at that time travelling express, by 
various allusions which Mrs. Graham had 
considered it necessary to make in her letters 
to Crommingford, concerning a certain Miss 
Sherlock, whom I certainly thought a hand- 
some girl, and whose father, a solicitor in 
good practice, seemed inclined to give me 
that countenance and assistance of which 
sucking barristers stand so much in need . 

I am not aware that any false delicacy 
should prevent my stating Miss Sherlock 
then loved me, but the love was all on her 
side. Caring for Eose, I cotild not have 
loved another ; but it pleased Mrs. Graham, 
spite of all my disclaimers, to insist I was 
smitten in that quarter, and she was never 
weary of telling me what a desirable match 
it would prove. 

Kot that I think in her heart she much 



2o6 My First Love, 

liked Miss Sherlock ; but the old lady had 
a keen appreciation of the value of loaves 
and fishes, as was natural, seeing she had 
never possessed anything else of value in her 
life ; and Mr. Sherlock, as has been said, 
was powerful and willing, and the moderate 
amount of success I had as yet attained was 
owing entirely to him. 

I knew in those days that Miss Sherlock 
was well inclined enough for a flirtation 
with me, but I did not know she had lost 
her heart. If I had, Mr. Sherlock's 
briefs might have gone to some other 
struggling individual ; but as matters 
stood, I thought it no sin to be civil to 
the daughter, and to accept the father's 
invitations. 

He was playing his little game, though 
of course it is only afterwards one can see 
the moves on the chessboard of life, and his 
game was to push me on and let me marry 
his daughter. 

He did me the honour to think I had 



/ See Sir Humphrey. 207 

brains, and as he put it, " the stuff in me," 
and people have since been good enough to 
say that Mr. Sherlock's penetration was 
correct. 

Certainly few people in London at that 
time shared the lawyer's opinion, so I felt 
grateful to him accordingly. 

Having their heads full of Miss Sherlock, 
therefore, my parents never gave a thought 
to the well-known fact, that ^'propinquity 
is dangerous," and that my propinquity to 
Eose was very close indeed, until one day 
when my father came upon us seated on the 
Tiver-bank, a little above the upper mill and 
pond. It was an utterly secluded spot, with 
alder trees shading the stream, and a rather 
steep piece of ground covered with filbert 
trees and brambles, rising on the other side 
of the stream. No one ever passed that 
way, and when after picking our way up 
the bed of the river, we came to a smooth 
bit of turf, the only piece of the bank which 
was clear of trees and underwood, and sat 



2o8 My First Love. 

down there with the branches closing almost 
above ns, and the ivy that grew over the 
old thorn bushes, making trailing wreaths^ 
through which wild convolvuluses entwined 
themselves, we felt almost as though we had 
found some desolate island where nevei; a 
creature dwelt but ourselves. We were 
wont to sit there sometimes in utter silence, 
listening to the rippling of the stream, to the 
humming of the bees, to the songs of the 
birds, wrapped in a happiness too deep for 
words. But on that especial day I was 
talking to Eose about my hopes and plans, 
while all the while I held her dear hand 
clasped in mine, unconscious that at the time 
my father, whom some unhappy chance had 
led into our wilderness, crossing the stream 
where it took a sudden bend, was looking 
disapprovingly on our proceedings. 

He never came near us, however, but 
walked home much exercised in spirit, and 
disappointed, so he afterwards told me, in 
his son, while Eose and I unsuspecting 



/ See Sir Humphrey, 209 

wandered home soon afterwards across the 
fields — happy — oh ! friends, how happy I 
could never find words to tell. 

After tea my father asked me if I would 
come with him to the mill, and though I 
should rather have remained at home near 
Eose, I at once consented. We passed half- 
way down the avenue and then turned off 
through a held path, where not a soul was 
in sight. When we entered this my father 
said suddenly — 

^' What is all this between you and Miss 
Surry, Tom ? " 

The question took me aback for a moment, 
but then I answered — 

" The old story, sir, we love each other, 
and some day hope to be man and wife." 

'' And how long has this been going on ?" 

'^ Since I was down in the spring." 

'' Have you spoken to Sir Humphrey ?" 

" Certainly not." 

'' Then I am ashamed of you," said my 
father, hotly. " I did not think any son of 

VOL. II. P 



2IO My First Love. 

mine could have acted so dishonourably as 
to take a mean advantage of a girl's igno- 
rance, and allow her to engage herself to 
him without the knowledge of her parents. 
You must leave here to-morrow, and I shall 
write to Sir Humphrey at once." 

'^Excuse me," I answered; "but if Sir 
Humphrey must be written to, I shall write 
to him myself. Of course I am well aware, 
that situated as I am at present, communi- 
cating with Eose's parents will put an end 
to the matter at once, so far as seeing her 
is concerned ; but since you put the matter 
in that way, I will take the risk." 

''I am disappointed in you," my father 
proceeded, " you should never have spoken 
a word of love to the girl till you were sure 
of her father's consent ; and now when all 
the harm is done you will not even confess 
you were wrong." 

" I do not think I was wrong," I an- 
swered. '^I cannot think in our rank it is 
necessary for marriages to be contracted like 



/ See Sir Humphrey. 211 

Toyal alliances; I have loved Eose all my 
life — I shall never love, and I shall never 
many another — and I mean to marry her if 
fifty Sir Humphreys refused their consent." 

" Your love-making shall not go on under 
my roof at any rate," he replied ; '' and till 
you have obtained Sir Humphrey's permis- 
sion to address his daughter you shall never 
meet, if I can prevent your doing so. You 
seem to forget the disparity in your posi- 
tions — the objection Sir Humphrey may 
naturally make, not only to your want of 
means, but to the difference in rank, which 
unquestionably exists between you and Miss 
Surry." 

" In a worldly point of view," I replied, 
" it strikes me that a rising barrister is 
pecuniarily not a bad match for the daughter 
of an almost pauper baronet, for Kose will 
certainly not have one sixpence of fortune ; 
and with regard to the social differences of 
which you speak, although county people 
might not yet leave their cards on my wife, 

p 2 



212 My First Love. 

still I am not aware that perfect happiness 
is to be compassed even by an acquaintance 
with those who certainly only tolerate Lady 
Surry, and sneer at the poverty of her 
husband." 

^^We have had enough of this, Tom," 
said my father. 

" For me quite enough," I replied, and, 
for the first time in our lives, my father and 
I parted in anger. 

As for my mother, her regrets, to my in- 
tense amazement, took quite another form. 
She was sorry she had asked Eose so much 
to the house — not because she feared what 
Sir Humphrey might think of the matter, 
but because she considered my darling a 
most unsuitable wife for any save a wealthy 
man. 

'' She was delicate, she was penniless, she 
was not the girl to advance a husband's 
prospects, she knew nothing of household 
affairs (this from my mother, who had never 
tried to know anything of them), she 



/ See Sir Humphrey, 213 

was very lovable, and very amiable, of 
course, but my mother bad hoped I should 
make a different choice. That Miss Sher- 
lock, for instance, about whom Miss Graham 
wrote often " 

"Oh! confound Miss Sherlock!" I ex- 
claimed. *^ If there is to be peace between 
us, mother, never name that woman and 
Kose together in the same sentence again." 

" Tom," broke in Joan at this juncture, 
"you had better not say anything more about 
the affair at present; mamma will think 
differently after a time, and so will you." 

" If you mean that I shall ever think 
differently about Eose, Joan," I began de- 
fiantly, but she answered — 

" No. I only mean that hereafter you 
will be able to understand how mamma and 
papa look at the matter, and they will 
understand how you feel." 

What a dear good girl she was. She 
came to me when I was packing my port- 
manteau, and threw fresh oil on the waters. 



214 ^y First Love, 

By all means she advised me to go and 
see Sir Humphrey, ^' And I should tell Mrs. 
Graham also," she added. '^ If she ever mean 
to do anything for you, that will make her 
say so ; and she ought, for she has not a 
relation in the world besides ourselves." 

^^ I am afraid she wants me to marry 
Miss Sherlock," I said. 

^' Then the sooner she knows you are not 
going to marry Miss Sherlock the better," 
Joan declared. '' Tom, take the little sketch 
I copied from Dick Tullett's portrait, and 
show it to her. I wish you could take Eose 
herseK." 

"I think I will," I exclaimed. ''If she 
were of age I would marry her to-morrow 
morning;" and then I went on packing 
viciously, for my holiday and my summer 
happiness were both over. Our island be- 
longed to us no longer — our secret was. 
shared by others — the world and the world's 
opinion had stepped inside our paradise^ 
and that serpent of modern society, Mrs. 



/ See Sir Hiwiphrey. 215 

Grundy, had giyen us to eat of the apple 
of the knowledge of good and evil, and told 
us we must wander no more through Eden, 
till I could show a balance at my banker's, 
a house suitably furnished, an income of so 
much per annum, and a life insurance which 
I could undertake to keep up for the benefit 
of my wife and children. 

Correct possibly, but unpleasant. I 
thought so then, I think so now. 

My last matrimonial experiment was 
carried out on Mrs. Grundy's own plan in 
all particulars, and as the world, which likes 
to have a finger in every man's pie, is per- 
fectly satisfied with its results, there can be 
no reason to doubt but that I was and am 
wrong, and Mrs. Grundy right. 

l^ext day I left Crommingford, but be- 
fore I went I had a long talk and walk with 
Kose. 

To this of course my father objected, but 
Joan overruled his objection, for which I 
blessed her. 



2i6 My First Love. 

During that walk I told Eose everytliing. 
It is one of the characteristics of true love, 
I take it, that a man shall pour out his 
whole heart to the object of his adoration, 
let her be girl or woman — let her be capable 
of quite comprehending the position, or 
only able to grasp it through her sym- 
pathies. 

My pet was little better than a child, yet 
she understood me. 

^' It is not papa I am afraid of, but 
mamma," Eose said. " Oh ! Tom, make 
the best of it you can." 

The darling had always lacked moral 
courage, and this speech meant simply, 
" Show them your hopes for certainties." 

Oh, love ! oh, sweet ! if God had been 
only pleased to create you a little stronger, 
you would have been perfect. As it is, you 
carried with you the human taint, which 
merely made me love you more. 

For you were weaker even than I, my 
treasure, and a man likes to feel the arms 



/ See Sir Humphrey. 217 

that clasp his neck do not belong to quite 
an angel. 

*^ Even if they refuse, will you love me, 
Eose?" I asked, and she answered, "Till 
death, Tom !" and, my darling, weak as He 
made you, the promise was kept. 

So I went, but before I went my father 
and I were reconciled. 

^*If I have said anything disrespectful, 
sir," I remarked, " I am sorry." 

'' If I seemed harsh, Tom, it was only for 
your good," he replied. '-'- 1 wish you all 
speed in your wooing, for I know no girl in 
the whole world I would rather see your 
wife than Eose Surry." 

^' Thank you, father," I said humbly. 

'' All I desire on earth/' he went on, ^4s 
my children's happiness, compassed honour- 
ably." 

'-'- 1 hope you will never have cause to 
blush for one of us," I answered; and then 
we shook hands, as is the manner of male 
creatures in England, and I departed. 



21 8 My First Love. 

Do you smile, reader, at all this ? Ah ! 
believe me it is a fine thing to have a 
gentleman for one's father ; I do not mean 
with a hundred ancestors, or a hundred 
thousand pounds in money, but simply a 
gentleman, with a gentleman's simplicity, 
honour, and truth. 

The fact did not do much for me, you 
will remark, ere this tale is finished, but 
you are wrong. It has stood me in good 
stead professionally, and the lessons of 
honour my father inculcated and taught us, 
not merely by precept, but example, helped 
us to fight the battle of life more bravely 
and more honestly than would otherwise 
have been the case. 

Sir Humphrey and Lady Surry were ex- 
pected to pass through London in the^ 
course of a few days; and Eose gave me 
the address of the baronet's sister, with 
whom they generally stayed when in town, 
so that there proved no necessity for me to 
take the journey I had at first contemplated, 



/ See Sir Humphrey. 219 

namely to Paris, in order to face the parents, 
who would, I felt confident, try to separate 
me and Eose. 

On my return to town, my first care was to 
present myself in Queen Anne Street, whence 
Mrs. Graham had departed, having left 
London the previous day for Tunbridge 
Wells. As I had nothing to keep me in 
London, I followed her thither, and was 
welcomed most enthusiastically. How did 
it happen that I had tired of Crommingford 
so soon ? To see me at that time of the 
year was the last thing Mrs. Graham stated 
she anticipated. Perhaps, the old lady went 
on archly, I intended joining the Sherlocks, 
who were gone to the Isle of Wight, as of 
course I knew 

Of course, indeed, I knew, for Mr. Sher- 
lock had invited me to spend some time with 
them at Yentnor, but I had not the slightest 
intention of accepting his hospitality, and 
so I informed Mrs. Graham. 

*' I am not much grieved to hear it,'' she 



220 My First Love, 

replied, '^ I am not quite sure that I like 
Catharine Sherlock, or that I think she would 
make a good wife. She has her temper, or I 
am mistaken. Poor Puck (Puck was the 
poodle before honourably mentioned, a fat, 
lazy, pampered brute, that I cordially hated, 
and would have kicked had I dared) got his 
paw entangled in a lace flounce she wore one 
evening when she came to me, and tore it, 
and you should have seen how she looked. 
Of course you are not offended at my warn- 
ing you." 

"I assure you," I answered, ^'Miss Sher- 
lock or her temper is nothing to me." 

"Well, she wishes you were something 
to her," replied Mrs. Graham ; ''and at one 
time I certainly thought it might be a good 
match for you, but I hear they are living 
beyond their means, and that the girls will 
not have a sixpence." 

''I am afraid that is a way nice girls 
have," I said. , 

" It is a very serious drawback, however," 



/ See Sir Humphrey. 221 



remarked Mrs. Graham ; ^' take my advice, 
Tom, and never marry without some money, 
at all events/' 

" I should not like to marry without some 
money, certainly,'' I answered, " since 
manna has ceased to fall from heaven ; but 
the fortune will certainly require to be on 
my side, since the only girl I care for in the 
world in that way has not, and never will 
have, a penny." 

'^ I am very sorry to hear it," said my 
auditor, emphatically. 

^' I am not aware that there is any parti- 
cular cause for sorrow," I replied. ''We 
can wait." 

" Then you are really engaged." 

" Eeally engaged. I mean in a few days 
to ask her father's consent, which will of 
course be refused, but we must wait until he 
likes to give it." 

" And why should he refuse his consent ? 
What is there against you ? " 

" I am not aware that there is anything 



222 My First Love, 

against me as an individual," I answered ; 
^'but the Surrys are much bigger people 
than ever the Luttrells were, even in their 
best days, and very probably Sir Humphrey 
may look higher for his daughter than a 
struggling barrister. I know I should were 
I in his shoes." 

^' You mean the people that live at Old 
Court. Upon my word, Master Tom " 

But there was no rebuke in her tone, nay, 
rather it sounded almost exultant, as she 
added — 

^^ And pray how long has this been going 
on ? " 

^^ All my life, I fancy — at least, all my life 
since I first saw Eose — ever since she was a 
little thing like that," and I drew out Joan's 
copy of Mr. Tullett's portrait, and presented 
it to Mrs. Graham, who first put on her 
spectacles and then examined the face of my 
child love critically. 

When she had looked it all over she re- 
turned me the sketch without a word. 



/ See Sir Humphrey. 22^ 

After tliat pause she said, '^ I am afraid 
you have not been quite so thoughtful as you 
ought about Miss Sherlock. She certainly 
had reason to believe you cared for her." 

^' "What reason ? " I asked. 

'^ Why you were always with them — with 
her — and you paid her attentions — and — and 
I am sure I thought you meant something 
serious." 

^' I am greatly vexed to hear you say 
so," I replied. 

'^ Yes, it is unfortunate," remarked Mrs. 
Graham, '^but now you had better leave 
me : I shall miss my afternoon nap if you 
stay gossiping here any longer — and I want 
to think over what you have told me quietly 
— ^you have done foolishly, Tom, but I am 
not angry." 

Which was attributable, as Joan subse- 
quently suggested, when she and I came to 
talk the matter over, to the fact of Eose 
being a baronet's daughter. The one desire 
of the old lady's life had been for years, 



2 24 My First Love, 

that a Luttrell should do well in the 
world. 

'^ And it would help you enormously," she 
said to me the next day, ^' to marry into such 
a family as that." 

'' Oh ! aunt," I cried, for the pain of 
hearing Mrs. Grundy screaming in my ear 
was more than I could endure, ''if Eose 
were the daughter of a labourer I should 
love her just the same, and I wish she were, 
for we could then marry at once." 

'' Eomance," she answered, " all romance! 
Love is all very well, Tom, but believe me, 
success is better." 

In her heart did she think so I wonder, 
she who had nothing to love save parrot and 
poodle. 

Whatever, however, her private opinions 
on that subject may have been, there could 
be no question of her approval of my choice. 
If there were times when qualms came over 
her, concerning Miss Sherlock's disappoint- 
ment, and the share she might have had in 



/ See Sir Humphrey. 225 

causing it, tliese were but specks on the 
brightness of the rising grandeur and wealth 
she pictured as certainties for me. 

'^Tell Sir Humphrey Surry," she said, 
'*that I, Blanche Graham, born Luttrell, 
will, if he consent to your marrying his 
daughter, make you my heir. With that 
prospect and your profession, you may seem 
a desirable parti in the eyes of any man of 
Sir Humphrey's means. There, I want no 
thanks. I should have done the same for 
Joan had your parents' selfishness not re- 
fused her to me. Do not interrupt me, Tom, 
I always shall think and say it was selfish, 
when they had so many, that they could not 
spare me one." 

"But, aunt, Joan was as dear to them as 
any one of the others. 

" I never said she was not," retorted Mrs. 
Graham. '^ What I do say is, that they 
might have humoured my whim, after all I 
had done for your father, too — ^but still I am 
not sure that it has not turned out for the 

VOL. II. Q 



226 My First Love, 

best — I like you better now than I could 
ever have liked a girl ; and if you marry 
this young creature and bring her home to 
me, I shall forgive your father." 

Ering her home — there was a frightful 
notion — in fancy I beheld my darling mewed 
up in Queen Anne Street, with the bipeds 
and quadrupeds mentioned at an earlier point 
in this story, but I did not mean to lose every 
point in the game by evincing the horror 
wherewith Mrs. Graham's casual remark 
filled me, neither did I intend — supposing 
Edse agreed — and I knew she would, the 
darling — to disappoint or act in any way 
unfairly towards one who offered to do so 
much for us. 

Although I had looked forward to having 
Eose all to myself in some pretty home — no 
matter how homely — still I felt it was better 
to have her in Queen Anne Street than 
not at all, and so fortified with many 
good wishes, I returned to London, and 
sought that interview in Devonshire Place 



/ See Sir Humphrey. 227 

whicli was, as I erroneously imagined, to 
-decide my fate. 

In this I chanced, however, to be mis- 
taken ; Sir Humphrey — or to speak more 
correctly. Lady Surry — for it was she who 
made every bullet which the old baronet 
fired — said neither no nor yes. I was not 
objected to on the score of either birth or 
fortune — but Eose was young — too young to 
enter into any engagement involving the 
whole of her future happiness. At the end 
of, say two years, I had permission to name 
the subject again, meantime I was not to see 
her clandestinely, neither were we to corre- 
spond. 

How I rebelled against these conditions it 
is needless to tell. I prayed, I entreated, 
but I might as well have prayed and en- 
treated a statue as Lady Surry; and Sir 
Humphrey, now rapidly falling into poor 
health, was but a mere tool in the hands of 
his wife. 

'' It is mamma — it is all mamma," said 

Q 2 



228 My First Love. 

Kose, at the parting interview which Lady 
Surry graciously permitted us to have at Old 
Court ; " but never mind, Tom, the two 
years will not be very long in passing. 
Think of all the years we have known each 
other already, and if I am not to see you I 
shall see Joan, and if I am not to write I will 
send you messages through her." 

And so we kissed and separated ; and I 
went back to London, and worked harder 
than ever at my profession ; and although 
Mr. Sherlock was cool for a little time, still 
he soon relented, and put what briefs he 
could in my hands. 

I know now he believed the Surry alliance 
would never come to anything. I know now 
Lady Surry merely entertained my proposals 
to the slight extent I have related, to the 
end that if no better suitor offered, Eose, in 
the event of her father's death, might not 
be left unprovided for. But at the time I 
was in blessed ignorance of everything, save 
the fact that when two years had expired 



/ See Sir Humphrey. 22g 

I should be free to speak again, and, as I 
hoped, to good purpose. 

" If I can only get employed in some great 
case," I thought, ^^ my fortune is made." 
But though great cases came, and were 
tried, and caused a noise in the world, 
my name never figured as counsel for either 
side. 

I was young, I was almost unknown 
— there were plenty of abler men in 
the field — yet I did not despair. What 
though the fire of fortune was not yet 
kindled on my hearth — love still kept 
my heart warm — hope still sustained 
me. 

If the path to success were rough and 
tedious, I felt, nevertheless, that I was tread- 
ing it ; and in my chambers, where I sat all 
alone night after night, eschewing company, 
and studying harder than man, I think, ever 
worked before, I had sweet visions of the 
fame and wealth which were to crown my 
endeavours. Fame I only then desired, to 



230 My First Love, 

gain Kose for me — wealtb. I only longed for, 
that I might keep her like a queen — my 
love. 

And so a year passed, and my probation 
was twelve months nearer its close. 



231 



CHAPTER VTII. 



JOAN'S LOVER. 



In the many letters which Joan found time 
to write to me during that year — and espe- 
cially towards the close of it — there occurred 
so frequently the name of a certain Walter 
Surry, that, at length becoming curious on 
the subject, and also slightly jealous, I asked 
my sister to favour me with some information 
concerning the gentleman in question, and 
also how it happened that he seemed to be so 
much in the neighbourhood, and so constantly 
with Eose. 

By the next possible post Joan's answer 
came, ^' You need not be at all uneasy about 



232 My First Love, 

Bose," she italicised; '^ Bose is devoted to 
*you ; would never think of any one else ; and 
Mr. Walter Surry only cares for her as a 
cousin." 

^' Then I suppose he cares for you not as 
a cousin," I suggested in reply ; but to this 
there came no answer. From that day Joan 
mentioned his name as seldom as possible, 
and, putting the two things together, I 
gathered that at last my sister was ^^hit," 
and that Mrs. Graham would probably ere 
long have good reasons for believing the 
^^ Luttrells were," to quote her favourite 
expression, ^' going to hold up their heads 
again, and be heard of once more in the 
world." 

But I kept Joan's secret as she had kept 
mine, and waited patiently for results. 

Walter Surry was the only son of that 
Gilbert to whom Sir Geoffry left Gray- 
borough Castle, and the estates and lands 
thereunto appertaining, which were valuable ; 
together with the expression of a hope, 



Joan's Lover. 233 



which proved abortive, that eventually Gil- 
bert would succeed to the title. 

Gilbert did not succeed ; he died within a 
very short time after his brother, and the 
estates and prospective title devolved conse- 
quently upon his only child, Walter, then a 
boy about my own age. 

During his minority Grayborough Castle 
was left unoccupied, but now, after some 
years of foreign travel, Walter had taken 
up his abode there, and received much 
goodly company, his parties being matron- 
ized by his mother — a woman still hand- 
some, Joan informed me, and very different 
indeed from Lady Surry. 

Which, being translated, meant that Joan 
considered Mrs. Surry as agreeable as she 
thought Lady Surry the reverse. 

To two of the balls which were given at 
Grayborough Joan was invited, and she sent 
me glowing accounts of the splendour of 
the house and the beauty of the ladies — of 
the kindness which had been shown to her 



234 My First Love, 

and my father, and the exceeding grace with 
which Walter Surry went through a quad- 
rille. 

What was there that man could, not do 
better than any one else, according to Joan's 
report ? He could ride, shoot, skate, sing, 
dance in a more perfect manner than man 
ever did before. '^ My duets never sounded 
the same until Mr. Surry sang the second 
with me." '-'- 1 have just returned from a 
long ride with Eose and Mr. Surry. Eose 
was afraid to gallop — but he and I had such a 
race over Wildmoor Common," and so forth. 
Clearly the hero had come, and Joan's heart 
was gone irrecoverably. 

Although at first I could scarcely believe 
that she had made so mighty a conquest, 
yet, remembering her rare beauty, I did not 
as time went on feel astonished at the affair. 

Walter Surry, though young, had never- 
theless probably seen enough of the world 
to disgust him with fashionable ladies ; and 
the originality, talent, and simplicity which 



Joans Lover. 235 

distinguished Joan had no doubt attracted 
him towards her. 

To me, of course, it appeared strange that 
any man should care for Joan when Eose 
was present, but I adopted my sister's view 
of the affair without question, remembering 
her wonderful faculty of penetration, and 
rested content, resolving, however, that 
when I went down to Crommingford for my 
summer holiday I would try whether, if no 
actual engagement existed between them, 
Mr. Surry could not be brought to the point. 

Spite of my own delay and shyness in 
making my declaration, I always distrusted 
a man who in love matters hung fire, and I 
felt vaguely uneasy as letter after letter 
arrived from Joan and made no mention of 
his having said anything particular. 

^' If he be playing with her it will break 
Joan's heart," I thought, and by way of 
warning, I just ventured in a postscript to 
ask if Mr. Surry were anything of a flirt. 

In answer to that question I received a 



236 My First Love. 

manuscript — for I cannot call it a letter — 
which I would now reproduce, were suffi- 
cient space at command for the purpose. 

Therein Joan recounted all the acts of the 
Surrys since time immemorial, and there 
was no word in all that chronicle of the 
baronets of Graysborough concerning a 
jilted or heart-broken woman. 

Grand men were the Surrys, according to 
Joan's report — noble they had been since 
the beginning — even poor Sir Humphrey 
did his best to make a detestable wife happy, 
and what, then, could I mean by my 
question ? 

Eeplying to which appeal I said I had 
meant nothing, and Joan was pleased 
graciously to receive my statement as 
perfectly and undeniably true. 

"But you will see him when you come 
down, Tom," she remarked, just as if the 
sight of Walter Surry were likely to afford 
the slightest pleasure to me. 

It wanted but a week or so to the time 



Joanh Lover. 237 



I had arranged to leave London, and go for 
my long annual visit to Crommingford, when 
in the midst of the bright sunshiny weather, 
I heard the first growl of the storm that soon 
burst over us. 

There came a rumour one morning to the 
effect that the great Indian house of Hol- 
lington, Carr, Byrne and Co. had stopped ; 
and I, knowing a considerable portion of 
Mrs. Graham's fortune had been left in that 
establishment, walked down to the city in 
order to satisfy myself there was nothing 
really in the report. 

Of course all sorts of stories were afloat. 
Some said HoUingtons were good as the 
Bank of England; others that HoUingtons 
had long been shaky ; some that the report 
would be contradicted in the next day's 
Times ; some that the ruin would be found 
to be more complete and wide-spread than 
people at all imagined. 

Of course the prophets of evil were 
right — there rarely is smoke without fire — 



238 My First Love. 

and next day, in the money article, appeared 
a formal notice of the failure of that well- 
known firm. 

At first I hardly grasped the fall import 
of the announcement. Indeed I scarcely 
knew enough of Mrs. Graham's concerns to 
be aware that the bulk of her large fortune 
had gone down with Hollington's ship, and 
I shall never forget the sick heavy misery 
that oppressed me when, seated in Queen 
Anne Street, my relation, with tears and 
lamentations, declared she was a beggar — 
that she might as well go to the workhouse 
at once — that of course everything now was 
ended between Eose Surry and me, that she 
could do nothing for herself, and conse- 
quently nothing for me, on whose advance- 
ment she had set her heart. 

I sat there and listened — sat there in the 
midst of her curiosities, her carved idols 
from India, her knick-knacks from China, 
her shells, her figures, her japanned work 
and bon-bon boxes, her ancient furniture — 



Joaii's Lover. 239 



dimly comprelieiiding a erisis had come, 
that the last air palace of my erection was 
vanishing like its predecessors. 

In my selfishness, at first I had scarcely 
a thought to spare for the poor old woman 
to whom money, and the things money 
conld buy, had always seemed so precious — 
who had valued success so highly, and who 
now sat wringing her yellow wizened hands, 
and repeating that she would have to go to 
the workhouse, for there would never be a 
penny saved. 

And there never was ; but with the few 
thousands she still possessed, and which had 
happily been invested in the funds, I even- 
tually purchased an annuity that enabled 
her to keep on the house in Queen Anne 
Street, and to live there without any per- 
ceptible diminution of stateliness and pre- 
tension. 

To do her justice, she fought against my 
advice, and would have left her home to 
take up her abode in a smaller house, so 



240 My First Love. 

that the principal she still retained might 
come to me at her decease, but I insisted on 
having my own way, and after she had 
made her unselfish offer, I think the old 
lady was rather glad to keep the goods the 
gods sent her, and to take at the same time 
immense credit for her proposed generosity. 

All this, however, is in advance of my 
story, for on the fine summer's morning 
when I heard all she had to say, I do not 
think I could have suggested a plan for her 
future support, had any one told me I 
should be hung if I failed to strike one 
out. I could think of nothing, feel nothing 
but Eose, and the fact that the prospective 
fortune which had exercised so large an 
influence in persuading Lady Surry to 
listen to my proposals, was lost, lost hope- 
lessly, needlessly. 

True it may be said I was no worse off 
than in the days when, standing under the 
apple trees, I told my love tale ; but I was 
just this much worse, I had led Sir Hum- 



yoan^s Lover, 241 

phrey to think I stood on a certain worldly 
equality with his daughter, with good pro- 
spects, and every chance of eventually attain- 
ing to a good position and standing in life. 
I had not said, '' I have nothing but my 
profession,'' but I had said, "- 1 have every 
chance of rising at the bar, and in addition, 
Mrs. Graham will make an immediate settle- 
ment on my wife, and leave me the bulk of 
her fortune at her death." 

And now, after a year, I was not a step 
nearer legal success, so far as an outsider 
could judge, and I was minus the fortune, 
and Eose was twelvemonths older. 

I thought I should go mad as all this 
swept through and through my brain, keep- 
ing a sort of time and measure to the poor 
ruined woman's senseless lamentation. Once 
the notion of going quietly down to Old Court, 
before the news had travelled there that the 
failure of Hollingtons involved my aunt's for- 
tune, and persuading Eose to elope, crossed 
my mind, but, alas ! the days we lived in 

VOL. II. R 



242 My First Love. 

were not those in which I could carry off 
my beloved to Gretna in a chaise and four. 

And supposing they had been, and that 
I had carried her off, and found money to 
pay the expenses of the journey, and the 
blacksmith for his services, and the other 
incidental matters which no doubt made a 
marriage even at Gretna as uncomfortable 
an affair as it usually proves in England, 
how was I to earn a sufficient income to 
take that inevitable stucco and lath and 
plaster villa before alluded to, and furnish 
it, and pay servants' wages, and the baker 
and the butcher and the grocer and the 
milkman, to say nothing of other tradesmen 
and tax-collectors. 

^ The money question seemed for a time 
to have lain comparatively quiet, and behold 
now in a moment was its venomous head 
upreared again, its forked tongue spitting 
poison at me all the while Mrs. Graham 
recited her dirge. 

'^ There is nothing for me but the work- 



yoanh Lover. 243 

house, and you will have to give up 
Eose." 

Yes, I knew that — knew it without her 
telling me. It was my bounden duty, 
having toiled for a year vainly, and seeing 
the end more remote than ever, to relinquish 
the love of my life. If they would only 
grant me another year, I thought — if only 
— but I knew Lady Surry too well even for 
hope to deceive me ; and I went down to 
Crommingford a dejected and heart-broken 
man. 

There, fresh troubles awaited me. Affairs 
had latterly not been going well either at 
the mills or about the farm. With no one 
except Joan to help (for the only one of my 
brothers who was old enough to prove of 
much assistance, had neither sufficient brains 
nor sufficient steadiness to drop into the 
place I had, unfortunately, left vacant), 
things could scarcely be properly attended 
to ; and besides, for two previous years 
there had been bad crops, and milling had 

B 2 



244 My Fu^st Love. 

barely paid its o^tl expenses. As if this 
were not enough, that very spring a disease 
had broken out amongst our cattle, and 
carried off the best of all the milch cows ;. 
and when affairs were at the very worst, 
Mr. Eeemes died, and his heir was already 
demanding the re -payment of that two 
thousand pounds, with interest, which had 
for three years fallen, not totally, but a 
little, behind. 

" I was, indeed, going to ask Mrs. Graham 
for assistance," said my father; '^ but when 
your letter arrived, I had to abandon that 
idea, and look our position in the face ; and 
having looked at it, Tom, and considering 
that if I were to die, there is no one to take 
the management, I think we had better sell 
off everything, pay our debts, and then — " 

'' Then what, father?" I asked. 

^' There will be, perhaps, something left," 
he answered ; '^ enough till the younger 
ones get up a little, and the boys must 
work ; they will never learn to work here, 



Joaiih Lover, 245 

or to be good for anything but strolling 
about the fields, setting snares, and getting 
into mischief." 

" I wish I had stayed ! " I broke out, 
passionately — ^'I wish I had never gone 
away ; I am of no use — none at all." 

^^ Patience," he said; ^4t is not of what 
you are now, but of what you will be, Tom, 
you should think." 

And, not to pain him further, I remained 
silent, though my heart was so full of grief, 
and disappointment, and regret, and anger, 
I could have cursed the hour in which I left 
my home, and went away to wander after 
the pot of gold, I had never yet touched, 
save in my dreams — and that I felt at that 
moment I should never touch, any more 
than I should find the end of that rainbow 
arch where, in nursery tales, the pot of 
gold is supposed to lie concealed. 

At Old Court mv interview terminated as 
might have been supposed. Sir Humphrey 
ivas heartily sorry, and, but for his wife, 



246 My First Love. 

wouldj I think, have conceded the year I 
prayed for in which to try my fortune. 

It was my own year, after all, I asked, 
the second of the two originally granted ; 
but then, as Lady Surry remarked when I 
reminded her of that fact, the circumstances 
under which this second year was granted 
were now changed, as much as my pro- 
spects. 

She could not contemplate a marriage for 
her daughter where there was neither 
money, nor even the likelihood of money. 
Although Eose was not accustomed to great 
affluence, she had from her infancy been 
surrounded by every comfort ; and she put 
it to me — having so bitterly the whip hand, 
Lady Surry could afford to be reasonable 
and temperate — whether there were even 
the most remote chance of my being ever 
able to support a wife — unless, indeed, she^ 
had a large fortune of her own — in the style 
in which she, Lady Surry, was confident I 
should wish ? 



Joaii's Lover, 247 



^'Sir Humphrey's opinion was identical 
with her own,'' Lady Surry proceeded. 
'^ They admired the candour with which I 
at once informed them of my altered for- 
tunes, and they quite agreed with what was 
eyidently my own conviction, namely, that 
the whole affair ought now to be as if it 
had never been." 

''As if it had never been," I repeated, 
while I walked stupidly homeward. " I 
wonder if Lady Surry knew what she meant 
herself when she uttered that sentence." 

I asked if I might see Rose once more, 
but Lady Surry thought it would be better 
not, that leave-taking could only distress 
the poor child needlessly. She was sure 
(there were so many things she was sure, 
and certain, and confident of, during that 
interview) my great love for Rose would 
make me wish to spare her pain and sorrow. 

It had better be by letter, if at all, Lady 
Surry suggested, and I agreed to this, but 
sent my letter to Grayborough, at which 



248 My First Love. 

place I ascertained from Joan, Eose was 
staying. Lady Surry had not, with all her 
certainty, bargained for that move on my 
part, or I am greatly mistaken. 

Before I left Crommingford, however, I 
saw Eose once, quite by accident. She was 
riding, not with Mr. Surry, but with an 
older and a handsomer man, and my jealous 
eye noted that he leant over towards her, 
and was talking earnestly as they drew near 
to me. They had evidently dropped behind 
a riding party which I met half a mile 
earlier, and he seemed to be availing him- 
self of his opportunities. 

'^So be it," I thought, in my anger; 
^' what can it matter to me ? " and I would 
have let her pass without even a sign that 
I saw her, but suddenly checking her horse, 
she turned and followed. 

" Tom ! " I fancy her companion would 
have given a year's rental to have heard her 
speak his name in that tone. ^^ Tom, do 
you not know me ? " 



Joa7ih Lover, 249 



'^Know you ! " I repeated; '^ but you 
must remember it is to be all over between 
us — I am no better than a beggar, and 
you — " 

" I never thought about the money, 
Tom," she answered; '^ you got my letter 
telling you so, did you not ? I can never 
care for anyone else— I will wait for you 
till you are a great man — till I am a hun- 
dred" — and the dear hand fell on my 
shoulder, and she stooped over her saddle 
till her face almost touched mine. 

'-'- That gentleman, Eose," I suggested, 
wamingly. 

'^ I hate him ! " she said vehemently, '-'- 1 
love no one but you, and I will love no one 
else, let them say or do what they like. If 
Mr. Lovell Allen choose to go and tell 
mamma, he can do so. Oh, Tom, I am so 
wretched ! " and her eyes filled with tears. 
" I wish I were a child again, and could run 
away and hide from it all." 

^^ Eose," I began, steadily enough, ^^ I 



250 My First Love, 

have promised your father and mother to 
hold no further communication with you 
without their consent, but, darling, I shall 
not quite despair if only you will do one 
thing for me — marry no one else till after 
Christmas twelvemonth. If you see me in 
the church when you are decking it on 
Christmas-Eve, you will know I mean to 
speak to Sir Humphrey again ; if not, you 
will understand, not that I love you less, 
but that I have tried to win you for the 
second time, and failed." 

^^I shall be there," she answered, ^^if we 
are in England ; if not, I will manage to 
let you know — only it is such a long 
time — " 

" Yes ; but I have such a great deal to 
do in it," I murmured, and then the little 
fingers closed on mine, and we parted. 



2^I 



CHAPTEE IX. 

SUCCESS. 

I SUPPOSE if any man could revie^v all the 
events of his past life fi^oni the top of that 
hill of age, whereon he is mythicallv sup- 
posed at a certain period of his existence 
to sit (io\ni and rest, there is not a single 
act in the whole drama which, were the 
power given to him. he would play again iu 
the same manner. 

All we can say about the steps we 
took, the paths we selected, is that to our 
then judgment, those steps and those paths 
seemed the best that presented themselves ; 
but then we will probably add in the next 



252 Jlfy First Love. 

breath, ^' more is the pity that they should 
have seemed so, since they unquestionably 
led to evil." IS'ow it was an evil I am sure 
for my father to give up his land and sell off 
everything; but it seemed to me a good 
thing at the time for him to clear himself 
from worry — as though any human lot is 
ever free from worry. 

It was like tearing an old tree up from 
the ground to try and transplant him, but 
the transplanting was effected nevertheless. 
As for my mother she liked the idea of 
returning to London, though she disliked 
the reality much more afterwards, and so 
far as the children went, they were wild 
with delight and non-comprehension. 

Joan, and I, and my father were the three 
who felt the moving most, each one of 
us perhaps for a different reason, but all 
possibly with. equal keenness. 

"We talked about the dreariness of ex- 
changing our pretty place for stuffy London 
lodgings, but we knew it was not so much 



Success. 2^2> 

the change of house or home which affected 
us, but rather the severance of all old ties— 
the impossibility of ever in the future re- 
uniting those connecting links between the 
present and the past which we were then in 
our blindness wrenching asunder. 

By reason of a merciful foresight, Joan 
coming- to town with me in order to prepare 
some place wherein our people might lay 
their heads, imagined how it would be, 
and entreated me to take^ not merely lodg- 
ings but some quiet house, with a little 
land, to which a portion of our stock might 
be removed. 

"London would kill papa now," Joan said, 
"let us have a little place near it anywhere ; 
one that I can manage, where they can 
go when they are tired of this, and the 
children want a run ; " so as she said, it was, 
and I secured a small cottage surrounded 
by about ten acres of land, near Southgate, 
at a really low rent. 

" If the worst come to the worst," Joan 



254 My First Love, 

explained, '^ we can almost feed the chil- 
dren off the land ; I do not mean by putting 
the darlings out to graze," she added, ^^but 
by managing and contriving." 

Ah ! Joan, though you were not my wife, 
nor for that matter the wife of anybody in 
those days, how often I haye risen up 
at that country cottage and called you 
blessed, for if you had not been what you 
were, how could we ever have even with 
my poor help kept our brothers and sisters 
as we did, and cast the sunshine of easy 
contentment over the evening days of those 
who had been so good to us in the helpless 
years gone by. 

It puzzles me sometimes now, Joan, how 
you have managed so to adapt yourself to 
different means and a different station — 
When I see you driving in your carriage — 
behold you entering your box at the opera, 
and hear you issuing your orders — to every 
one excepting me, even in the way you speak 
to your husband, there is unconsciously a 



Success. 255 



tone of command in your voice — I cannot 
but wonder at the adaptability and versatility 
of your sex. You never made a sixpence 
really in your life, and I have a few — but 
yet I could no more go in for your grand 
manner than I could fly. I cannot help 
thanking the splendid creature in plush, who 
condescends to take charge of my over-coat 
when I have luncheon with you Ute-a-Ute in 
St. James's Square, and how you can order 
and send him about as you do, baffles my 
comprehension. 

But then perhaps the battered sun-bonnet 
and the stolen cherries are less present 
memories with you than with me. 

The faculty of forgetfulness is as great as 
prescience with your sex, my dear — happily. 
On me devolved the trial of seeing the 
last of our dear old home. I went down for 
the auction. I paid off the bill of sale ; I 
reserved the few things we required, the 
cattle we desired to keep— further, I re- 
tained an old man who had been in our 



256 My First Love. 

employment for years, to take charge of the 
live stock to their new home, and ^^if you 
would like to stay with them, Sam, you 
can," I added; hearing which, Sam, who 
had neither chick nor child, wife nor mother, 
went straight away, and, disposing of his 
few household gods, adopted ours, and re- 
mained one of us till his death. 

These are all simple records, friends — but 
this professes to be none other than a simple 
story — too simple, I fear, to find favour save 
with the few who like to hear better about 
still life, and the untragical existences most 
of us lead, than to read concerning nature's 
storms, and the violent crimes and passions 
of our humanity. 

In the plot of a modern Macbeth, of what 
use could Sam seem, save to carry the 
poisoned bowl, or sharpen the fine Damascus 
steel ? Yet in our poor lives he filled in a 
not unimportant part. 

He carried ^^ home" with him to London. 
1^0 place would have seemed one to us with- 



Success. 257 



out that familiar presence. ^0 cow could 
have calved properly, no sow farrowed, no 
hen been set, without Sam's assistance and 
knowledge ; and on my way between Colney 
Hatch Station and Southgate, whither each 
Saturday I drove in a pony cart belonging to 
the small farm, drawn by a pony which, for 
speed and beauty, could not, though I say it, 
have been matched in the county of Middle- 
sex, Sam was wont to entertain me with 
stories of the cattle, the fowls, the dogs, the 
family, that filled me, coming as I did each 
week from the midst of strangers, with an 
unspeakable delight. 

But all this time I am wandering away 
from Crommingford, where the neighbours 
were very kind, and bought up everything 
at good prices — God bless them ! — for those 
prices made all the difference to us. As 
I have said, I satisfied the bill of sale, and, 
as I have not said, I paid all our debts, 
small and big; and then I gave up the 
place, walking away from it by a long^ 

V0T-. II. 8 



258 My First Love. 

green, back avenue, wtLich led neither to 
nor from anywhere in particular, feeling, as 
I passed each ■well-remembered spot, that I 
should never again return to the haunts of 
my boyhood. 

I had some reason then to suppose that at 
a future time that neighbourhood would 
retain its charms, for hope, as I told Eose, 
was not quite dead within me ; but yet, as I 
closed the wicket gate of the unused entrance 
I have mentioned, and turned back for one 
last look over the familiar scene, I knew 
I should see the old homestead, with the 
horses being brought back after the day's 
labour, no more for ever. 

And I never have, and I feel confident 
I never shall. 

It did not turn out so badly as might have 
been anticipated, and this fact first induced 
me to think that my father — that we all 
might have been wrong. When, after a 
man is sold up, he proves considerably more 
than solvent, it is difficult to imagine why 



Success, 259 



such a breaking-up was ever deemed ex- 
pedient. Yet there are more bankrupts 
than those, who feel money dropping from 
their pockets faster than they can shovel it 
in — men who do not fail because money 
is difficult, or credit an impossibility, but 
merely because life, at the best, not being 
an easy struggle — when health begins to 
fail and energy to subside — they weary and 
sicken of the battle. 

They want peace on any terms ; they care 
little who wins, so long as they are per- 
mitted to lay down their arms — and thus it 
proved with my father. He asserted the 
fight had been too much for him, and he was 
glad to have done with grim debt and 
grimmer difficulty, and come even to 
London lodgings, which he subsequently 
exchanged, with something more than 
pleasure, for the cottage previously men- 
tioned, whither I had sent some of the 
household stuffs, and a few familiar chairs 
and tables that would, I fancied, make 

s 2 



26o My First Love, 

the new place seem a little like an old 
home. 

Meantime, I took to literature — that 
usual resource for poor briefless men — and 
earned money. I did not earn much; but 
visions of fabulous wealth, which was to be 
the proceeds of a certain work on which 
I was then engaged, floated before me, 
makiQg the prosaic two guineas I had once 
approved of, seem like dross in my eyes. 

Were that work — it was one of fiction — 
to appear now, I could make quite enough 
out of it to live on for a year ; but the 
unhappy thing is, I could not write it now. 
One cannot write a good novel twice any 
more than one can cut an eye-tooth ; and, un- 
fortunately, the time of life at which one does 
cut an eye-tooth is not usually considered 
favourable to mature judgment — and so one 
gets paid accordingly for one's first novel, 
only one cannot sell that first novel a second 
time, which seems a hardship. 

Joan, my sole confidante, took occasion, 



Success. 261 



when Eose was staying at Grayborough, to 
inform her of the fact of my authorship, and 
numerous letters on the subject were inter- 
changed between the pair. 

It was only from Grayborough Eose could 
write, Joan informed me, since Lady Surry 
had tabooed their correspondence. 

^^ Eose does not care, however, so long as 
her mamma does not know," Joan remarked 
— as I have before observed, my angel's 
views on the score of strict morality were 
feminine and somewhat oblique, — "and 
Lady Surry never told me not to write to 
her, so I shall as long as I can." 

But the correspondence, like Eose's visits 
to Grayborough, was broken off by another 
continental tour, in which Eose took part, and 
then I was utterly disconsolate — more espe- 
cially after one day when I said to my sister, 

"Do you ever hear now from Mr. Surry, 
Joan ? " and she suddenly broke out crying. 

" Never, Tom, never. I am afraid I made 
a great mistake, and that it was Eose after all." 



262 My First Love. 

Eose after all — all ! ^eli, love may be 
a very fine passion, but it is also a very 
selfish one, for I gave scarcely a thought to 
Joan's trouble as I turned avray in order to 
contemplate that fresh trouble of my own^ 
Eose, after all, was weak, and he was with 
her continually — he so clever and rich, so 
handsome, so capable of winning love, while 
I — I who loved her as man never loved, 
was forced to stand out in the cold, bearing 
all this, and, like some poor wretch battling 
with the rigour of a snow-storm, to see only 
at a distance the fires blazing, near which 
other men could sit enjoying the bright 
glow of the pine logs piled high on the once 
familiar hearth. 

And yet still I never then quite despaired. 
I felt strong in myself — felt success might 
yet be on the cards for me. Already I was 
beginning to be recognised — time had com- 
menced its work, which, though very slow, 
is very sure, and if I had not got any first- 
rate briefs, at least solicitors, some of them 



Success, 263 



slirewd enough in their generation, were 
aware of my existence. 

People began to speak to me — people I 
knew, who, though I recognised them well 
enough, had hitherto regarded me as a 
stranger and an outsider. 

I had been blest with some small re- 
tainers, I was becoming well known in the 
courts. The woman who kept the stall by 
the gate which leads from Chancery Lane, 
away towards Lincoln's-Inn Fields, had 
learnt to know me ; I occasionally received 
an invitation to dinner from other men than 
Mr. Sherlock ; Dick Tullett, who was even 
then rising to eminence, meeting me one 
day in the street, had not disdained to ask 
me to partake of boiled mutton with him (so 
his modesty put it) on the following day, 
and I went and ate the mutton, which turned 
out to be venison, sent by one of his patrons, 
and was charmed, as may well be imagined, 
with Dick and his surroundings. 

After the venison business, however, I 



264 J/v First Lozc. 

lacked courage to invite Dick's company to 
a mutton chop and pints of the best Burton, 
which hesitation I hare reason to believe 
Dick ascribed to pride on my part, believing 
I earned a fabulous income on the ' Weekly 
Jupiter,' the actual fact being I felt afraid 
of Dick, who knew nobody under a lord, 
and talked about wines as if he had been 
weaned on them. I have tried experiments 
since upon Dick, and find he knows no more 
abc»ut wines than my youngest daughter, 
who, if I were writing at home at this 
moment instead of in my chambers, would 
toddle up to me, and taking the pen out of 
my hand, say, " You shall write no more, 
pa," which mandate I always, since the 
worid is altered and parents now honour 
their children, dutifolly obey. 

Time still went on as has been before 
stated. It is a way time has, though some- 
times when very miserable one feels almost 
inclined to doubt the fact ; and summer 
came again, and another autumn followed. 



Success. 265 



and though I thought I was " getting on" 
really, yet apparently matters with me re- 
mained in statu quo. 

I had nothing to take in my hand, so to 
speak, and show Sir Humphrey and Lady 
Surry. My means were still inadequate 
to maintain a wife properly, and ere long it 
seemed probable I should have to assist my 
father in maintaining his family. 

The great brief might come or it might 
never come — and if it did another might 
never follow. My own reason was all on the 
Surry side of the question, but my feeling 
was all on my own. Had they given me a 
hope of Eose I felt as though I could have 
conquered fate — but then in those days 
when I had a hope of Eose I had not con- 
quered fate — the victory had been quite the 
other way — alas ! for me. 

^' The Surry s are in London," Joan re- 
marked one morning in that autumn, to 
which allusion has been made, ^^ I saw 
Eose and her mother driving in the park 



266 My First Love, 

yesterday, with. Mrs. Surry. Eose looked 
pale and worn." 

It was in my chambers this interview took 
place, and when Joan ceased speaking I 
made no reply, only turned over the scat- 
tered papers, putting them mechanically in 
order, one on the top of another. 

"What did you say, Tom," asked my 
sister, after waiting patiently for about a 
minute. 

" I said nothing," I replied. 

"Then why did you say nothing?" she 
retorted. " I tell you Eose — our Eose — is 
in London, and you stand there like a stock 
or a stone, answering never a word. Has 
this not gone on long enough, Tom ? " she 
asked passionately. Ah ! Joan, I do not 
believe that passion was evinced altogether 
in my interest. "Are you not going to 
make an effort to see her, to keep her for 
yourself?" 

"I promised ," I was beginning, 

when Joan interrupted with — 



Success, 26 y 



" Then unpromise — you should never 
have done anything so ridiculous and 
quixotic as to pledge yourself to adopt any 
course. Write to Sir. Humphrey, and give 
him fair warning you mean to use every 
means to win his daughter. The girl is 
breaking her heart for you. I have no 
patience with men," my sister "finished. 
" If I were a man, and a girl loved me 
as Eose loves you, I would have her, spite 
of all the parents in England." 

^^1^0, Joan, you would not," I replied^ 
*^not if you loved her; rather, if you felt 
you had no prospect but poverty, no chance 
of maintaining her in anything like the 
comfort to which she had been accustomed, 
you would say, ^ God grant she may forget 
and leave the burden to be borne by me.' " 

'^ Then why did you ask her to wait for 
you till Christmas next ? " 

'' Because I was mad," I replied, '^ because 
experience had not taught me — because I 
believed in myself, and thought I was strong 



268 My First Love, 

enough to accomplisli anything by means of 
my own cleverness. I see now my mistake 
— I see, without extraneous help, a profes- 
sional man can do very little to push his 
way. Oh ! Joan," I added, speaking out 
what had often lately filled my heart, "I 
wish I had never left the farm, never ac- 
cepted Mrs. Graham's offer. I used to count 
the hours till I should get away and begin 
my new career — but it was all a mistake. I 
could have done well for myself and all of 
us, with your help, had I remained there. I 
should have been near Eose, and in that 

case " 

^^ Nothing would ever have changed her,'' 
Joan finished, as I paused, ^^but as matters 
stand, you have left the field open for her 
cousin. You kn o w Eose well enough — so long 
as she has anybody to stand near and protect 
her, she could be brave as I am, but as things 
are, how can you expect her to be firm ? She 
is everlastingly with Walter Surry and his 
mother, and it is a match you may be posi- 



Success. 269 



tive Lady Surry would like, and you have 
pledged yourself not to write to or see her, 
and there can be no doubt but that either they 
are intercepting her letters, or that she is 
changed, for it is more than six months since 
I had even a line from her, she who used to 
write to me two and three times a week." 

^^ Joan," I said, ^^ would you have me ask 
Eose to spend all the best years of her life 
waiting for a man who may never be able 
to marry her after all ? " 

" There is no use in talking to you, Tom," 
she answered; ^' I believe, after all, you are 
fond of that hateful Miss Sherlock. I saw 
you walking down Piccadilly with her yes- 
terday. Yes, you may well coloui- ; I did 
see you, though you were too much occupied 
to notice me. If you lose Eose I shall not 
pity you one morsel. It would not sui^prise 
me any day to see an account of ber mar- 
riage m the paper." 

'' It would surprise me greatly," I 
answered ; but even while I spoke my con- 
science accused me of falsehood. 



270 My First Love. 

I knew I should not be surprised — I knew 
I should have no right to feel so. And yet, 
spite of this knowledge, I hoped on, believ- 
ing in my darling's constancy, and only 
really di-eading the coming of that Christmas- 
Eve when I had told her she would under- 
stand by my presence or absence how it was 
to be between us in the future. 

And yet what right had I any longer to 
thrust my wretched prospects between her 
and fortune ? For any one, even for my 
Eose, "Walter Surry, from a pecuniary point 
of view, was an excellent match ; further, 
according to Joan, this paragon had been 
endowed by Heaven with every gentlemanly 
grace and manly virtue. True, he had led 
Joan astray as regarded his feelings towards 
her ; but I could well understand that, if he 
loved Eose, he would like Joan for Eose's 
sake, and comprehend, with his knowledge 
of the world, that the best way to destroy 
her attachment for me was to patronise my 
family, and afford her ample opportunities 



Success, 271 



for contrasting the narrow means of our 
poor home with the glories of Grayborough. 

Afterwards I knew in all this I had made 
a mistake, and that at the time he was per- 
fectly unconscious I was an object of the 
slightest interest to Eose, or Eose to me; 
but it is difficult at any period of one's 
life to understand that one's actual 
existence is a matter of the supremest in- 
difference to a great many people on earth, 
and this is doubly difficult to realise when 
one first starts in the race, and being new 
to the course, fancies that every man's eye 
is on one, noting the result. 

There is one thing I can honestly say, 
however — namely, that if T were an object 
of indifference to Walter Surry, he was by 
no means an object of indifference to me. 
I thought of him waking, I dreamed of him 
sleeping, and always in my dreams he seemed 
to me mixed up with that Lovell Allen, of 
whom Eose had spoken so bitterly. Some- 
times the one changed into the other — 



272 My First Love. 

sometimes I confused Lovell Allen's face 
with that of Walter Surry ; but always those 
two men were associated in my mind to- 
gether, and have remained so associated ever 
since. 

As Christmas drew near, my nights grew 
more disturbed, my days more restless ; I 
could attend to nothing properly ; the little 
work I had was neglected; I could not 
write, I could not read ; the very printer's 
devils I had once been so rejoiced to welcome, 
whom I had requested with such courtesy 
to seat themselves in my vestibule whilst I 
completed an article, and rewarded with 
numerous sixpences for dropping off to sleep 
during their stay, were now dismissed sum- 
marily and empty, both as regarded copy 
and gratuities. 

When Mr. Sherlock's managing clerk 
called with a brief in some trumpery case 
that was to be tried at the Guildhall, I 
failed to receive him with those evidences 
of gratitude which he had come really to 



Success, 273 



regard as his due ; and never suspecting the 
cause of my indifference, he went back and 
told his employer he thought Mr. Luttrell 
must be getting on, for he did not seem to 
xjare about such small things now. 

But in an hour, in a minute, everything 
i\^as changed — green leaves budded from 
barren stems, flowers decked the fields — the 
sun poured his warmest beams into the 
room where I sat beside my wintry fire. 

One day there came a brief — the brief of 
all others I could have desired. The great 
case of ^ Aylesbury v. Montford and others,' 
which filled the newspapers for weeks, and 
occupied public attention to an almost un- 
heard of extent, was coming on for trial, 
and to my humble room — to my chambers 
in Staple's Inn — was sent a brief. 

The leader on our side was Mr. Serjeant 
Mac!^eill, since raised to the peerage, and I 
was next to him. 

Fortune had relented at last, the ball was 
at my foot, the tide had turned and might 

VOL. II. T 



274 -^y First Love. 

bear my poor tossed bark to wealth and Eose 
Surry after all. 

I never paused to inquire bow it bad come 
or wby, but, like a giant refreshed, arose and 
faced once more tbe life I bad but a few mo- 
ments before tbougbt not worth living — faced 
it as a man restored after long sickness to 
health looks out on the world with a new 
sense of its beauty, with a keener apprecia- 
tion of its loveliness. 

At what age, I wonder, does a man, so long 
as he has the chance of happiness stretching 
away before him, cease to be a fool. I was 
a fool that day when the brief in Ayles- 
bury's case arrived. Already I saw retainers 
pouring in, and heard myself talking, the 
observed of all observers ; already I pro- 
phetically beheld publishers offering me 
fabulous sums for my next new work ; 
already wealth was mine — ^and fame. 

It has all come since — all my soul then 
thirsted for — sufficient wealth, comparative 
fame, briefs more than I desire to see, such 



Success, 



275 



celebrity, or shall we rather say notoriety, 
as is to be won by him who addresses his 
Lordship and an intelligent and enlightened 
jury. People great enough in their way, 
and high up in the social scale, like to see 
me at their dinner- tables, while my wife's 
basket is filled with ^^ At Homes," and in- 
vitations to various excuses for bringing 
people together and making them uncomfort- 
able. And yet, behold the end, my dear 
young friends ; after all, when you ask 
me for a story, I can find none so near 
my heart as that of my ^ First Love,' for 
whose dear sake I gloried in that brief, for 
whose satisfaction I already mentally won 
the case, after a telling speech following 
that of Mr. Serjeant MaclS'eill. 

I went to my poor aunt and told her suc- 
cess had come at last, whereupon the dear 
old creature burst into tears of mingled pride 
and affection, and told me I was the only 
thing she had to live for. I then journeyed 
to Southgate, and carried the good news 
thither. T 2 



276 My First Love. 

Ah ! heaven, who on this earth would be 
lonely, if he could but know all the plea- 
sures his success is capable of carrying to 
those who can love, but have no power of 
winning success for themselves. I cannot 
imagine anything so barren as victory, if 
the victor have to wear his laurels solitary 
amongst strangers, if he hath no kith nor 
kin to rejoice with him, to feel their hearts 
stirred when the thousands clap, and the 
crowd cheers ; when they behold him who 
is of their lineage, whose blood is identical 
with their own, bowing the hearts of the 
men of Israel as the heart of one man. 

^^ There is one thing wanting," Joan 
whispered, as she came with me to the 
door. 

"On Christmas-Eve, please God," I 
answered, and I went exulting out into the 
night. 

But long ere Christmas-Eve it pleased 
God to stretch my dear father on a bed of 
sickness, and for days and days his life hung 



Success, 277 



by such a tliread that, spite of my love and 
my longing, I could not leave his side. 

He did not, of course, know where my 
heart was, and while he kept continually 
asking for Tom when I was out of the room, 
and holding my hand while I was in it, how 
could I leave, even to keep faith with her 
whom I loved better than father, or mother, 
or brother, or sister, loving each one and all 
of them no less the while ? 

But I sent a special messenger down to 
Old Court with a letter, and instructions to 
deliver it into Miss Surry's own hands, 
which he did, only it chanced to be into the 
hands not of Eose, but of another Miss 
Surry, who ordinarily resided in Devonshire 
Place, but who chanced then to be staying 
on a visit with her brother. This lady, after 
reading, carried the epistle to Lady Surry, 
and the pair agreed to keep its contents and 
its advent a secret from Eose — whom it 
would only, so they said, unsettle. 

Long afterwards we knew this, when in 



278 My First Love. 

the future we came to compare notes — Trhen 
Bose, sitting in this very room, told me how 
she had gone to the church, and watched and 
waited — waited even in the churchyard 
after every one else was gone — only to re- 
turn home disappointed. 

And they knew it, those women — knew 
the travail of her heart for one they had 
striven to make her believe unworthy — 
knew I was constant all the while — knew 
that then, just as tenderly and truly as when 
we stood in my father's orchard whispering 
our vows — I loved Eose, and Eose loved me. 



279 



CHAPTER X. 

WHAT SUCCESS BROUGHT TO ME. 

It was tlie second week in the new year 
before! could get away, that is before my 
father was pronounced out of danger ; and 
then I really ought not to have left, because 
I knew eyery moment of my time should, 
properly speaking, have been devoted — not 
to love — ^but to the great cause of ^ Aylesbury 
V. Montford and others.' To rest, however, 
any longer without seeing Eose, was, I felt, 
impossible. There had been a period du- 
ring that weary probation when I turned my 
thoughts from her, and swore to myself I 
would forget my madness and my disap- 



28o My First Love. 

pointment; but now when hope had returned,, 
when the past was again present, and the 
dream just capable of fulfilment, how could 
I longer refrain ! 

There was a hunger and a thirst on me 
to behold my darling. I could have cried 
aloud for delight when I found the early 
express speeding me onward. I talked to 
my fellow-passengers, I lent one old gentle- 
man the Times^ I gave another a share of my 
travelling-rug. I was amiable even con- 
cerning politics, and forbore from thrusting 
my conservative flag under the eyes of an 
unmitigated radical, who treated us to a dis- 
sertation on the then absorbing question of 
the day. 

"What did I care about the frost and'snow — 
I liked them. There was a bracing exhilara- 
tion in the air; the wind was crisp and 
fresh. So much of my life had lately been 
, spent in a sick-room, and a sick-house, that 
I felt like a prisoner let loose, while speed- 
ing away to Crommingford. 



What Success brouoht to me. 281 



The station was nearly a mile from tlie 
village, and of course there was no vehicle 
of any kind awaiting the arrival of the 
train ; so I left my bag at the station, with 
direction that it should be forwarded to the 
^ Green Man and Still,' by one of the 
porters, and pursued my way on foot to that 
unambitious hostelry. 

Everywhere the frozen snow lay thick. 
It sparkled on the leaves of the holly in the 
hedges ; it covered the fields ; it clothed the- 
upper portion of each elm bough. But the 
sun shone brightly, and the birds twittered, 
and the ground was crisp and firm below my 
tread ; and it seemed to me as though my 
boyhood, and the hopes an^ the purposes^ 
thereof, had returned, while I walked rapidly 
towards the village. 

Before I reached it, there fell upon, my 
ears the sound of the bells I remembered so 
well, ringing for some village wedding ; and 
when I came in sight of the church, I saw 
that the graveyard was full of idlers, while 



282 My First Love. 

that on tlie green were collected knots of per- 
sons, who seemed gathered to see the bridal. 

'^ Happy may they be," I thought to my- 
self ] but at that very moment I caught sight 
of three or four carriages drawn up under 
the lime trees near the church gate, and why, 
I knew not, I never could tell, my heart 
gave first a great bound of fear, and then 
seemed as suddenly to stand still. 

" You seem to be very merry at Cromming- 
ford to-day, my friend," I said to an old la- 
bourer whom I passed, and who was stand- 
ing like the rest, to see the show. How I 
ever got the words out, I cannot tell, for 
my tongue seemed to cleave to the roof of 
my mouth. I was parched like one who had 
been wandering through some arid desert. 

" Yes, sir ; it is our young lady's wedding 
day, and there are to be great doings at the 
Court to-night, the like of which have never 
been known in these parts." 

*' Young lady— Court," I repeated in my 
agony. 



What Success broiio-ht to me,' 283 



<b' 



'^Yes, sir, Miss Surry is marrying her 
cousin ; and a bullock is to be roasted whole 
at Old Court." 

I pushed him on one side, and ran on. 

Had I reached the church in time I knew 
now I should certainly have forbidden the 
wedding, interrupted the ceremony ; but as it 
was, just as I entered the porch the marriage 
party were sweeping into the vestry. 

I saw j)eople pressing round the bride, 
kissing, shaking hands, wishing her all hap- 
piness. I saw the bridegroom, tall, stately, 
exultant. I saw my treasure — mine, shrink- 
ing a little from the congratulations — white 
as her veil, pass to the book, where she 
signed her name, which was to be the same 
as wife as it had been as maiden ; and then 
feeling I could not stand without some sup- 
port, I leaned up against the wall just with- 
in the church porch, and waited for her 
coming. 

I did not mean to speak. I only intended 
that she, faithless, should see me faithful. 



284 ' My First Love. 

and I repented me afterwards that I had 
not fled — I did, oh ! Eose, my love. 

After a long time, as it seemed to me^ 
they came out, bride and bridegroom first ; 
she just touching his arm ; he bending down 
triumphantly, and looking so proud and so- 
happy that I could have stricken him dead 
in my jealous hate. 

But I shrank back from their sight ; if the 
ground had opened and swallowed me up I 
should have been glad, but as it did nothing 
of the sort I drew more and more away from 
the light to a corner under^ the organ loft 
stairs, where no eyes but hers could have 
beheld me. 

Suddenly her face changed, and she drop- 
ped his arm. "I see an old friend to whom 
I must speak," I heard her say, and next 
moment the small white -gloved hand clasped, 
mine, and there sounded in my ear the 
piteous moan, 

" Oh ! Tom, why did you not come be- 
fore ? " 



What Success brought to me. 285 

Then looking in my face, like myself she 
grasped the truth. We had both been de- 
ceived — both duped — we knew it by intui- 
tion then, as we knew it of certainty after- 
guards. 

" We must both try to bear it," she went 
on. How brave these women, even the 
tenderest of them, are under the torture — 
perhaps the tenderer the braver. ^^ We must 
l3oth try to bear it. Good-bye, Tom dear ! '' 
And the little hand was withdrawn, and I 
saw her, whom I had carried in my arms — 
who should have been mine — mine — pass 
away through the door and down the path — 
his — 

Further into the darkness I drew back, 
and when the last of the wedding party had 
defiled out, I crept after them into the day- 
light. 

I did not attempt to follow them. I only 
stopped behind a monument and watched her 
returning the greeting of the villagers, 
while my heart seemed breaking. 



286 Afy First Love. 

I followed her white dress till she entered 
her husband's carriage, and I heard the 
cheer with which the crowd greeted the 
newly-married couple as they drove back to 
Old Court. 

Then I emerged from my post of observa- 
tion, and walking along a path which led 
in a contrary direction, struck off across the 
fields to walk anywhere away from her 
memory. 

The whole aspect of nature seemed changed 
to me in a moment ; it was no longer a 
bracing, inviting morning to my idea — the 
earth was covered with a frost, which had 
blighted flower and beauty — as in a moment 
flower and beauty had departed from my 
life. 

It was in the early spring I had last trod- 
den those field paths, unhappy in my pro- 
spects indeed, but yet seeing a life before 
me not destitute of hope ; but now, oh ! 
Lord, but now — success had come, and 
where was she for whom I alone desired 
success ? 



What Success brought to me, 287 

Where there had been yerdure there lay 
snow ; in lieu of leaf and promise were bare 
boughs and rotten twigs, while Eose, the 
only love of my life, could be, even in 
thought, mine no longer. 

And so, thus far, my story is ^ told. So 
my first love passed away from my sight — 
the wife of another. 



EXD OF YOL. II. 



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LITTLB QT7BEX STEBET, LUfCOLll'S VSS PIBLDS.